Oudtshoorn Courant

Safety tips for selling a vacant home


Listing and selling a vacant home can be stressful. The unfortunat­e reality is that a vacant property is a vulnerable target for vandals with an increased chance of the home being broken into.

To avoid this, it is best to make the home appear lived in to deter all possible mischief.

According to Adrian Goslett, Regional Director and CEO of RE/MAX of Southern Africa, selling a vacant home is also more challengin­g because buyers often struggle to picture how the home will look once they have placed their own furniture inside.

"Even though no one is currently living in the home, it doesn't need to be empty.

A bare home can seem less homely to potential buyers. At a minimum, your agent should take photos of your home fully furnished, which would deter criminals who are scoping for targets online.

Beyond this, it could be helpful to hire furniture or to leave some furniture behind to showcase the home to potential buyers," Goslett recommends.

RE/MAX of Southern Africa provides the following safety measures homeowners can implement when selling an empty home:

Inform the neighbours

Sellers should inform the neighbours and the neighbourh­ood watch (if applicable) that they are selling a vacant home and ask them to make contact if there is anything requiring the owner's attention.

Sellers could also request that the real estate agent marketing the home checks in on it from time to time.

Install a home security system

If the home does not currently have a security system, install one. It will keep the home safer and may also increase its value. For many prospectiv­e homebuyers, security is a determinin­g factor in their decision-making.

Check the home insurance policy

Some aspects of the owner's household insurance coverage might change once they have left the property. Homeowners should check this and should also find out how long the policy will cover a vacant home. Some insurance companies may offer Vandalism and Malicious Mischief Coverage that protects the property once the owner has moved out.

Use timed lighting

To further deter criminals, try motion activated lights or set the lights on a timer so that they turn on during the evenings to give the appearance that someone is home. Ideally, there should be sufficient lighting for the interior and exterior of the home, as a poorly lit home allows criminals the opportunit­y to hide.

Never allow the mailbox to overflow

Homeowners will need to update their forwarding address and make regular visits to the home to pick up any mail, as an overflowin­g mailbox is a telltale sign of a vacant home. Alternativ­ely, ask the neighbours, friends, or possibly even the estate agent to stop by the property occasional­ly to empty the mailbox.

Maintain the exterior of the home

An overgrown lawn is another telltale sign that the home is not inhabited. Even though no-one is living on the property, it stills needs to be regularly maintained. Not only will maintainin­g the home deter trespasser­s, but it will also make the home more attractive to prospectiv­e buyers.

"While selling an uninhabite­d home can be a daunting task, using the above tips will help to ensure that the process is as hassle-free as possible," says Goslett. "Using an experience­d real estate profession­al from a reputable brand will also expedite the process and ensure a quick and seamless sale."

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