Can I Sell A Vacant House?
Here’s The Complete Guide To Selling A Vacant House
If you’re thinking about selling a vacant house, there are some things to consider. Selling an empty house is different than selling an occupied house. You need to make sure you’re aware of some of the obstacles you may encounter when trying to sell your vacant home. In this post, we’ll walk you through the complete guide to selling a vacant house.
Why Would A House Be Vacant?
A home can become vacant for a number of reasons. Some could cause the home to be vacant for only a few days, while others make take months to sort out. The most important thing is, if possible, the homeowner needs to sell the home quickly or find a suitable tenant. The longer a home sits vacant, the more problems the homeowner could face.
Some of the main reasons a home becomes vacant:
- The seller has already purchased a new home and moved out.
- The home was a rental property and the tenant has moved out.
- New construction has been completed.
- The homeowner has passed away and the home goes to the heirs.
Problems Of A Vacant House
A vacant home can pose a few major problems to a homeowner. These problems can begin to grow over time. The longer a home sits vacant, the more problems the homeowner will start encounter. Here are a few of the major problems associated with a vacant house.
Vacant Homes Attract Crime
When a home sits vacant, there is no one to watch over it and keep it safe. This can attract crime ranging from vandalism to theft to break ins. Vandalism may include a few broken lights, graffiti, or even significant damage to the home. The repairs may only be a few hundred dollars ranging to thousands if there is significant damage.
Criminals also tend to look for items they can take and sell to make money. This could be appliances, electronics, or anything of value left in the home. Even if you’ve cleaned the home out, vandals could still open up your walls and steal the copper piping!
The best thing you can do to prevent crime if your home does have to be vacant, is to install a security system. There a plenty of portable systems that can be installed to deter potential criminals. Also make sure your home is secure by boarding up windows, doors, or anywhere a criminal may be able to sneak in. Remember, thieves like to take the path of least resistance. If your home is secure and equipped with an alarm system, they will hopefully move on to another vacant home.
Vacant Homes Can Feel Empty
Part of selling a home is that potential buyers feel like they could see themselves living there. Vacant homes tend to feel empty and some potential buyers lack the vision to see what the house could look like with their furniture. Of course you could hire someone to stage the home, but that would be an added cost you may not want to take on.
Another downside to vacant homes is that without furniture, potential buyers tend to see every blemish in the home. This could prevent buyers from wanting to purchase the home if they knew they’d need to make repairs when moving in. You could always make a concession in price to accommodate the necessary repairs, but that would require you to walk with less money at closing.
Vacant Homes Require More Maintenance
The longer a home sits vacant, the more the home is exposed to maintenance issues. When someone is living in the home, day-to-day repairs are simple to handle and can be taken care of quickly. When the home is vacant, these items can add up and start to cost the homeowner a lot of money. If you’re not careful, the repairs may be more than you’re willing to spend on the home.
Vacant houses are also susceptible to fires, water damage, and mold. A small leak may turn into a large one, and could cause thousands in damage if not repaired quickly. Not to mention, when water damage is present, mold soon follows. Make sure you are checking in on your vacant home frequently to make sure there are not any repairs that need to be addressed.
Vacant Homes Attract Squatters
Vacant houses can be the target of unwelcome guests or “squatters”. There are various forms of “squatters”, but the most common “squatter” would be a homeless person looking for a place to stay. While this seems harmless, homeless people can cause damage to the home over time. The longer a “squatter” stays, the greater the chance for damage and/or legal problems.
If you have found a “squatter” living in your house, the best thing to do is to contact the police immediately. The longer the “squatter” stays in the home, the more difficult it becomes to remove them. If the police will not remove the unwanted visitor, you will have to start the eviction process.
Tips For Selling A Vacant House Fast
When prospective buyers look at vacant houses on the MLS, they all start to look alike. The rooms are bare, the landscaping is unkept, and there are more than likely problems with every house they look at. Here are a few tips for selling a vacant house fast.
1. Leave The Utilities On
When homeowners leaves the utilities off in a vacant house, the likelihood of costly repairs begins to go up. The best thing to do is to leave your utilities on and make sure your home has been winterized and is ready to the upcoming months.
Another drawback to leaving the utilities off is that potential buyers may think that the homes needs more repairs than it does. This could result in a lower offer price for the seller, and potentially a longer time on the MLS. If you live in a very warm or cold area, showing a vacant home without utilities could be uncomfortable. Keeping the utilities on allows anyone seeing the home to feel right at home.
2. Stage Your Home
Potential buyers want to feel warm and cozy when they step into a home and a vacant home is no different. Staging a home can cost only a few thousand dollars and can help your home to have defined spaces. These defined spaces will allow potential buyers to see your house as a potential home, and not a vacant house.
3. Take High-Quality Pictures
Selling a vacant home is very similar to selling an occupied home in the aspect that potential buyers love looking at pictures. In order to sell your home quickly, you need to make sure you take high-quality pictures of your house when it’s staged. With so many houses on the MLS, if a home has blurry photos, most potential buyers will skip right over it. A listing with high-quality photos will get more people interested in your home, and should lead to more showings.
4. Secure The Home
When selling a vacant house, make sure that your home is secured. Make sure all the doors and windows are locked, the garage door is closed and secured, and that the only way into your home is using a lockbox key. The last thing you want to happen is have a “squatter” in your home when a potential buyer is walking through. That could not only scare your buyer away, but open yourself up to legal problems.
5. Make Sure Any Small Repairs Are Completed
You’d be surprised how quickly a few scuffs on the wall or missing light bulbs can turn a prospective buyer off. A prospective buyer may ask themselves, “if they haven’t bothered to replace lightbulbs, what else could be broken?”These repairs are quick and can cost only a few dollars to have fixed. Make sure to walk through with your realtor or home inspector to get an idea of what repairs are needed, even if you plan on selling your home “as-is”.
6. Disclose Any Repairs That Are Needed
If you plan on selling your home on the MLS, you should get a home inspector to take a look at your house. The inspector will be able to give you a list of all of the items that need to be replaced for a small fee. This will go over very well with potential buyers because they will know that you are not trying to hide anything. Full disclosure is the best policy.
Ways To Sell A Vacant House
1. Through A Real Estate Agent
Selling your home through a real estate agent is the most common way to sell a vacant house. The agent will be able to give you a decent idea of what your home might sell for on the MLS by running a comparables report or CMA. The agent will handle all of the paperwork and negotiations on your behalf.
The downside to using a real estate agent is that the timeline to sell your home could be anywhere from a few weeks to 6 plus months. You’ll also be responsible for paying for both your agent and the buyer’s agent’s commissions. This is usually around 6% for both agents.
2. Sell For Sale By Owner (FSBO)
Selling a vacant house for sale by owner has grown in popularity lately as homeowners want to save money on real estate commissions. This method is very similar to selling through a real estate agent, except the homeowner is responsible for the paperwork, negotiations, and scheduling showings.
The timeline is very similar to selling through a real estate agent, and homeowners can expect to potentially still pay 3% for a buyer’s agent. The downside to using this technique is that some real estate agents won’t work with for sale by owners because the buyer’s agent ends up doing all of the work for only 3%.
3. Sell To A Cash Home Buying Company Or Investor
Selling a vacant house to a cash home buying company or investor is a quick and easy way to sell your home. A cash home buying company, like Rocket Homebuyers, LLC, can give you a price for your home in its current condition. They typically can close in under 2 weeks and can have cash in your hand quickly.
The downside to most cash home buying companies or investors is that they typically won’t pay full market value for a home. These companies have overhead and will only buy a home if they know they will make money after they fix it up. The benefit is that it’s a fast sale at a fair price.
Final Thoughts On Selling A Vacant House
Selling a vacant house can be overwhelming at times. The good news is that it doesn’t have to be. Decide what your plan is going forward, and you’ll be able to sell your vacant house quickly. If you’d like to speak with someone about selling your vacant house for cash, give us a call at (402) 413-0424.