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Let’s start with the good news – it’s much easier to sell an empty house than it is to sell a property that has someone living in it. If you need to sell a vacant house in Florida, you’re already ahead of the game.
The following must-dos are not just for the convenience of the buyer, they’re also important for you and your peace of mind. If you fail to follow through with these six simple must-do’s when putting an empty property on the market, you’re setting yourself up for a world of trouble.
Keeping your house presentable and in move-in ready condition will help you sell it faster and for a higher price.
Why keep the house empty?
Selling an empty house is the preferred way to sell. It’s less messy because there aren’t any people living in it to get around. Without occupants, there’s less of a chance of damage happening.
It’s easier for the seller to do any necessary repairs on the house, too. Any improvements that are done on the house will stay that way when the new potential buyers come into the picture. It’s a new slate. Vacant home sales are all about prospective buyers imagining themselves in the empty rooms. Without furniture or occupied rooms, potential buyers will be able to envision themselves in a home without the owner having to stage even a single room. It becomes a blank canvas.
The other positive here is that new homeowners are able to move in as soon as the deal closes. The logistics are straightforward. Listings can be created at any time when you’re selling your vacant real estate.
The pressure of an empty house
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It’s expensive to keep an empty house. Real estate investors know how expensive it is to keep a vacant house on the market. A fast flip is the bread and butter of investors.
For individuals, an empty house is undoubtedly a drain on resources. Selling your home requires working with lots of different real estate professionals and making seller concessions of one form or another. Selling a vacant home is similar, but houses are easier to wrestle with when they’re empty.
All that being said, if you do have a vacant house in Florida, you can maximize it by being smart about how you maintain it before the sale.
Must-dos with a vacant house
Here are the five things that you must do when you have a vacant house on the market in Florida. You’ll be able to get the home quickly sold if you pay attention to these common sense sale tips.
- Keep the utilities on
In Florida in the summer in particular, this means keeping the A/C on. Electricity, natural gas, and water all need to be kept on when you have a vacant home. Often, a home vacant for a few weeks won’t cost much.
If a buyer needs to have a home inspection performed, they’ll want to be able to turn the lights on and check various parts of the house. If you’re selling to an individual rather than a professional homebuyer, having the utilities on for tours and open houses is an absolute must.
To keep the costs as low as possible, make sure you do the following:
- Unplug and open the refrigerator
- Close all windows and curtains
- Put the thermostat on energy saver mode
- Turn off water under the sinks
Keeping the utilities on also means there’s less likelihood of something going wrong, like mold growing inside a house that gets too humid in the hot summer months or the wax rings on toilets decaying.
This is not a huge expense – it should only cost a couple of hundred dollars for a month or two at most. Once the home is under contract, you can turn the utilities off or have them transferred to the name of the new owner.
- Maintain the exterior
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There are several things you must do to preserve the first impression of your home when selling a vacant home. These will not only increase curb appeal, they’ll also keep potential criminals away, even from new construction. Keeping up the exterior will make a huge difference when selling a vacant house.
- maintain the lawn
- maintain the pool
- put away outdoor furniture
- install exterior lighting
- streamline outdoor elements
Lawn maintenance is so important for a vacant house. Potential buyers will absolutely drive past the home, and they will be more interested in the home if it looks well maintained from the outside. In the winter months in Florida, you’ll have to do this less when the house is for sale.
This includes keeping the pool up. Many houses in Florida have pools in the backyard, and that pool can be a big selling point if it’s kept up. When a buyer looks at your pool, they should want to jump right in.
Anyone who does any research or has any experience with pools will know how expensive it is to bring back a pool that has fallen into the green and gross stage. A disgusting pool can cause your potential price to take a nosedive, and not the kind you take from a diving board.
A note about fencing & safety
On a related note, make sure that the fencing around your pool is adequate and in line with the local regulations in your Florida municipality. Most areas have laws requiring pools to have fences around them. If the worst were to happen and someone got hurt or drowned in your vacant pool that was not properly fenced, you are potentially liable. Even if they were trespassing on vacant property.
Gates can be unlocked during open houses when selling. Besides that, the curb appeal is always going to improve when home sellers have done more repairs to highly visible things like fencing.
A well-kept house is also a good deterrent for potential break-ins. Exterior lighting on a vacant home will also deter homeless people from coming onto vacant properties. When a home is well maintained, it’s attractive to buyers all the way around.
- Hire a cleaning company
A clean house will always attract more buyers than a dirty one. It’s completely worth the money to hire a cleaning company to do a deep clean of a vacant home. Let them wipe the baseboards, steam clean the carpets, and squeegee the windows in the dining room. It will be well worth every penny to get the house sold.
Many sellers are turned off by the idea of paying someone to clean a vacant house. Empty homes are easier to maintain than occupied homes. A home that is clean can handle more showings. Each room should be cleaned thoroughly at least once, whether by the seller or by someone else. Selling your vacant home, no matter where it is in Florida, when it’s clean will make it almost look like a new home.
Yes, sellers, you can probably do this yourself. Is it worth the time and hassle? Probably not compared to the couple hundred dollars it would cost to pay for a service. Vacant homes tend to gather less dust and dirt than an occupied home of course. Any home staging can be done right before an open house if the home is already clean.
Not every potential buyer will care about cleanliness, but it’s easier to sell homes that are clean.
- Continue your property insurance/get a home warranty
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This is the most must do-list. Lenders require homes to carry property insurance, but Florida homeowners sometimes own their property outright and thus aren’t required to carry it. This is more common with inherited homes in Florida.
The whole process of selling a vacant home in Florida will take a few weeks at the minimum, and in that time you’ll be liable for anything that happens in the house. A good insurance policy for a higher risk house will make selling your vacant home less stressful.
Without anyone living in a vacant home to be there to take care of minor repairs and notice problems that pop up, things can happen that cause further damage. Property insurance covers you should something go wrong. It’s relatively small compared to the huge expense that could occur if you find yourself without it.
It’s also worth looking into getting a home warranty. This will cover more than property insurance on vacant homes, and rates are relatively low compared to the potential cost of repairs.
- Put up a yard sign & lockbox
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If your home is vacant, you need to have a yard sign and a lockbox. Consider a security system when you’re selling vacant properties, even if you’re working with a real estate agent.
Trespassing and vandalism are not as common with vacant homes that are clearly on the market as they are with homes that appear to be abandoned. You want to give every indication that this vacant home has people looking after it closely. A lockbox and a yard sign will do just that.
Beyond the safety of the vacant home, when you put a yard sign and a lockbox on your home, you’re communicating clearly that it’s available. This will naturally bring more people out who might be interested in purchasing vacant houses in Florida.
Though this is an old school marketing technique, a yard sign is never a waste of money. Real estate agents always insist on then for vacant houses, rental property, and when selling any kind of property.
Lastly, a lock box will give you freedom if you don’t live locally to the Florida vacant home you’re selling. Whether you’re working with a real estate agent or a local friend who’s helping you get the home sold, a lockbox will mean you don’t have to go to the house yourself. You can also allow the house cleaning service and any contractors you have coming by for repairs to gain access to the house through a lockbox.
Selling an unoccupied house is easy
Though there is the additional expense of paying the mortgage, and to a lesser extent the utilities, on an empty house, it’s also a much easier sell than an occupied house. Sellers are smart to take the path of least resistance when selling, whether it’s for a traditional home sale and a listing agent or with a cash offer.
Everything that needs to be done on the home can be done at any time. Buyers have freedom to tour the house without disturbing the homeowners.
If you need to sell a vacant house in Florida, you’ll have fewer potential problems if you make just a few smart choices.