Vacant homes come with unique considerations when it comes time to list them on the market.

Your house could be vacant for a couple of reason. If you were able to close on a new property and move in before selling your old home, the latter will be empty after all of your belongings have been relocated.

You could also have an empty property on your hands if you're a real estate investor. While making necessary repairs revealed by the home inspection, you'll remove any items left in the house by the previous owner. Once the house is updated, you'll be left with freshly painted but blank walls.

Challenges of selling a vacant home

When buyers view the property, whether online or in person, they need a somewhat blank slate so they can envision themselves in the home. However, having a few items in the house is also key for attracting buyers, as sofas, tables and other furniture gives them a sense of how things fit into the space. Another challenge of an empty house is buyers may begin to wonder why you weren't able to sell the house before you moved out.

From a financial perspective, you'll be stretching your funds. Although you don't live in the property, you're still responsible for maintenance duties and expenses, as well as the cost of homeowners insurance for the house. Insurance policies for vacant homes can be more expensive, as the provider could see the property as more of a risk for vandalism and other damages that are less likely with someone living in the house.

Burglars often target homes that are empty, and vacant properties are typically sought for copper wire and other valuable building materials. If you're selling in the winter, you'll have to keep the heat going to ensure the pipes don't burst.

Overcoming the obstacles and closing a sale

Although selling a vacant property has its challenges, it's not an impossible task. Here are some tips for attracting buyers:

  • Keep the property maintained. Although you may not have a lot of time on your hands given the home duties you have at your primary residence, you still need to designate some time to keeping your vacant house clean and inviting. Take care of maintenance related to curb appeal, such as mowing the lawn in the summer, raking leaves and cleaning the gutters in the autumn, and shoveling snow and removing ice in the winter. Sweep, mop and dust the interior. For a low-maintenance way to keep the temperature regulated, consider installing a programmable thermostat.
  • Put some furniture in the home. To help buyers get a sense of the space, look into some affordable ways to furnish the property. You can rent sofas, chairs and coffee tables from a retailer. There are also consignment shops that have cheap furniture and knick knacks you can place in the house and offer to buyers as part of the sale price.
  • Protect the property. Install security features to dissuade burglars and give the home a lived-in look. Use a security system, including an alarm and motion sensor lights, to ward off thieves. Just don't forget to share the passcode with any real estate agents you give access to the home. Furthermore, install timers or photosensors for the home's lighting. When the sun goes down, it will appear as if someone is home for the evening. Regular maintenance also helps with security, as people in the neighborhood will regularly see someone in the property and notice the exterior is well-maintained.