Tips To Help You Sell A Vacant House

The ad looks too good to be true -- a home with all the prerequisites you want is on the market in a fabulous neighborhood. The community is near work, the schools are great, there are lots of activities nearby -- and the asking price is competitive.

But when the prospective buyers approach the newly listed home, hopes plummet -- the place is vacant and filled with scarred walls, dirty floors, and an unkempt yard.

Unfortunately, a home which is merely "lived-in" when furnished and occupied may look bare and blemished when empty. But the good news is that selling a vacant home isn't an impossible task, especially if you follow these pointers:

  • Remember first impressions. Regardless of whether your home is vacant or not, its appeal from the street is crucial in making a positive impact with potential buyers.

  • Paint or fix up the front entrance as required.

  • If you have a lawn, keep it mowed. Hire a neighborhood teen or local landscape service to keep it maintained. If your house is on the market in fall, be sure you or someone you hire keeps leaves cleaned up. Likewise, if it's winter and you live in a snowy area, be sure driveways and entrances are cleared.

  • Spruce up landscaping before you leave. Plant some new shrubs, lay down some fresh ground cover, or brighten it up with some colorful annuals.

  • Go through every room of your house, paintbrush in hand, and touch up any walls that have been scuffed or marked up. After moving furniture out, you're sure to find a slew of such marks.

  • Walls painted in bold, bright colors are wonderful attention-getters when complemented by furniture, rugs, and accessories. However, in an empty room, these bold colors may put buyers off. You may want to consider painting neutral colors throughout the house before you sell.

  • Get carpets professionally cleaned once everything is moved out. If the floors aren't taken care of, the prospective home buyer may wonder, what else isn't?

  • Clean your house thoroughly in every nook and cranny -- including windows and fireplaces -- before you let potential buyers look at it.

  • If at all possible, try to leave some furniture in the house. This will give prospective buyers a sense of size and proportion -- and a place to sit down. Empty rooms tend to look smaller than they actually are.

  • Don't set your deserted house up for potential break-ins. You may want to invest in exterior sensor lights that automatically turn on when it gets dark and turn off at sunrise. Make sure you cancel your newspaper subscription and forward your mail.

  • If you have a security alarm, use it -- just be sure you leave your entrance code with your real estate broker.

  • Be sure you review the provisions of your homeowners insurance. Many companies have a cap on how long coverage will last while the property is vacant.