Protect Your Vacant Home By Making it Look Lived-in
| Home Tips | Gerry Clark
Need to move across the country before your current home sells? You’re certainly not alone, particularly if your relocation is job-related.
Now you’ve got to make sure that departed home doesn’t look lonely as you forge a new life hundreds of miles away. The elements, neglect, mischief and criminal activity all can conspire to devalue your property during your absence, potentially costing you bigtime when a buyer bypasses your former abode for a better-maintained dwelling.
You can’t rely on a cross-your-fingers approach when it comes to protecting your real-estate investment. You’ll need to prepare prior to your interstate move and remain attentive until a purchaser signs on the dotted line. While your vacant home needn’t be a 24-7 hub of activity, you can’t afford your house and property appearing unattended, either. As professional movers with nearly 90 years of experience, National Van Lines knows proper preparation (and post-move follow-up) goes a long way toward reducing your moving stress. When you choose National Van Lines, you’ve given the best response to the question, “What moving company should I use?”
When prepping their soon-to-be-vacant home before a move the across country, people might think inside-out. Instead, reverse that orientation to outside-in.
If you recently purchased a home as part of your residential moving expedition, you realize curb appeal’s impact. An immaculate interior can’t make up for an overgrown lawn, peeling exterior paint or other telltale signs of neglect. Not only do these discourage buyers, they’re perfect come-on-in advertisements to criminals. Exterior lights—whether timer, solar or motion sensor—are a must.
People on premises
A family member, friend or good neighbor can prove irreplaceable in ensuring your vacant home’s exterior remains tidy. Arranging a regular visitation schedule is ideal. Your helper can remove litter, cobwebs or stray twigs from your lawn, driveway and porch. He can inform you that spotlight bulbs or hallway lights have burnt out. Consider purchasing a supply of interior and exterior bulbs for such occasions.
Sure, you forwarded your mail, but that doesn’t stop people from illegally using your rural mailbox’s red flag as a postcard holder. Ditto for door-knob hangers or phonebooks—remember those?—being plopped on your welcome mat. Your property trustee can perform a swing-by to keep that clutter under control. Don’t forget in all the hustle-and-bustle of out-of-state moving to cancel those newspaper subscriptions, either. Nothing shouts “no one’s home” better than newspapers strewn across a driveway. Speaking of driveways, a home always looks more occupied when a vehicle is parked outside the garage. Offer your neighbor the opportunity to park an extra car (or two) in your driveway as a safety precaution.
Merely having an individual regularly moving about your property can discourage trespassers and burglars. If light manual labor just isn’t your trusted person’s thing, he still can prove useful by providing home access to a handyman for maintenance/repairs. Having a handyman on call also would prove invaluable should plumbing problems occur, appliances malfunction or hard-to-reach light bulbs burn out. For heavier-duty tasks, such as lawn mowing, leaf raking or snow removal, you likely need to hire a service.
Just because you’ve left your home virtually vacant doesn’t mean you should be lulled into a false sense of security. The possibility always exists that intruders could ransack your house. Stoves, refrigerators, dishwashers, air-conditioning units and copper piping all can be converted into cash. Mischievous individuals might want to test their egg-throwing skills or BB-gun accuracy by using your siding and windows as targets. Believe it or not, squatters still exist, too. Your best bet is notifying the police department about your absence.
Do you already have an alarm system installed? If so, keep it for added protection. If finances force you to cancel the service, keep the company-supplied signs on the premises as a bark-no-bite theft deterrent. Even if you’re not a security-system fan, you might consider installing one for the limited time period before your home sells. If the alarm were to be activated, the signal is sent to the police department, providing a speedier response time vs. calling 911 after that trusted neighbor (hopefully) happens to notice something peculiar occurring at your house.
In all the hubbub ramping up to moving out of state, you might forget the little things. These include the obvious (locking all windows and doors) and the not-so-obvious, such as turning off the water heater (provided freezing isn’t possible) and unplugging appliances with power-draining digital readouts. Depending on whether you have an electric or gas pilot-light system, you might unplug your stove, too. These will reduce your cost of moving.
Ensure you’re insured
Ordinary homeowner’s insurance typically doesn’t cover incidents occurring during your absence. Vacant- or unoccupied-home insurance can be your safety net should a disaster befall your remote real-estate investment. Otherwise, you would pay out-of-pocket for fire or vandalism damage, for example. You’ll need to consult your insurance agent about whether your home qualifies as “vacant” or “unoccupied.” You also might have a choice about purchasing a separate policy for your vacant home or adding coverage to your conventional homeowner’s policy. Knowing you’ve got proper coverage will be an essential item to cross off your cross country moving checklist.
It’s definitely a balancing act owning two homes simultaneously, but with a little foresight and healthy amount of oversight, you’ve got this.
At National Van Lines, we make long-distance moving easy. As a national moving company, we’ve been safely and securely helping families move memories for nearly 90 years. Contact us online or call 877-590-2810 for answers to your questions plus a free moving quote.