Empty Case for Selling an Empty Home

Let's say, with a growing family, you want to sell your home and move to a bigger place. Don't you just hate that last-minute call from your realtor: "I have people who want to come by in the next hour." You have to drop everything, run around picking up toys and doing a quick vacuum, pack the kids in the car to the local fast food joint.  It would be so much easier if the house was vacant so that prospective buyers could come anytime, without the hassle, right?

Actually, no.

A vacant property is a tough sell. It can mean:

  • Longer time to sell; prospective owners cannot visualize their lifestyle as easily in empty rooms, and may see more flaws.

  • Physical damage to the home due to lack of maintenance, running of furnace, A/C and the like.

  • Reduced selling price resulting from the two points directly above.

Vandalism - Human and Otherwise

An empty house is susceptible to vandalism, including:

  • Occupation by "squatters" (freeloaders, transients)

  • Robbery of valuable building materials (such as the copper in pipes)

  • Partying youth with a good place to stash their party favours

  • Wildlife love a void - an unoccupied basement/crawlspace, attic or any room that shelters them from the elements and predators.

Maintenance Nightmares

Home inspectors will be the first to warn you about the dangers of letting a home stand empty.

  • An inactive AC system can result in built-up humidity, especially in the ground and basement level areas, and condensation on walls and windows - all of it leading to a likelihood of fungus and mould, which can be difficult and expensive to clean up.

  • Freeze thaw problems, such as frozen pipes, if the heating system is turned off during the winter, in colder regions.

  • Long-term dry spells resulting in brittleness or shrinkage of sealing devices such as gaskets and O-rings designed to be used in a wet system
What Can a Home Seller Do?

Fortunately, there are some solutions to get your vacant property to move on the market. They include:

  • Hiring a 'home sitter' or "home tender". RIS Media wrote last month about these temporary renters are a growing business. In some cases, in the US, there is no cost to the seller for these sitters; the nominal rent they pay goes to the professional who finds and hires these home tenders.

What about Buying a Vacant Property?

If you're looking to buy, and you come across a vacant home - which could include a vacation property - don't rule it out right away, no matter how cobwebbed the rooms or ratty the front lawn.

You might get a better price if it's been sitting (empty) on the market a long time. And, of course, be sure not to skimp on hiring a home inspector in the case of an unoccupied property.

Have you ever bought a vacant property? If so, did you feel you got an good deal because of it? As the seller of a vacant property, what solutions did you come up with? We want to know; please leave your comments below.


  1. Gloria Payton 07/16/2009 at 4:02 PM

    Don, you are so right that the homeowner takes a tremendous risk with leaving a property vacant. I had a listing many years ago...and who wants to think of this in JULY (!?!?) but a workman came into a vacant property in JANUARY and left a back door open. The owner had tried to save money by turning the heat off and, you guessed it, and the pipes FROZE. What a mess when they thawed! And the expense!!! I remember quite a hassle from the insurance company as well because the homeowner had not reported the property as being vacant.

    It's convenient to be able to get showing apointments at any time, but the risk to the homeowner makes it a pretty strong negative to have a vacant property if it can be avoided. Thanks for pointing out the pitfalls.

  2. House-sitters are a Good Idea 06/13/2011 at 1:27 PM

    Thanks for pointing out what you can do if you have to leave your house vacant, Don. I have been struggling with this dilemma myself. I have just bought a new property, and I have to leave my old one behind. I have found that house-sitters are a good idea. I used someone that my Realtor recommended. But make sure that you trust the person that is going to tend your house. You don't want just anyone tending your house. Thanks for the tips Don.

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    Thanks for the information

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