Selling Your Home When You’re Not Home – Part One

Selling Your Home - Nest Realty

The is the first in a 3-part series about selling your home when you’re not there—whether it’s a property you inherited, you moved for work, or an investment property you absentee-own. Part One talks about the property itself, Part Two focuses on the mechanics of being on the market, inspections, etc., and Part Three focuses on the actual closing process.

By Deborah Rutter

Lucky you! You have moved out of your place for whatever reason (family, job, maybe a rental, or an inherited property) and now it’s vacant. Or perhaps you were associated with the university and landed a new job (congrats!). For timing issues, that often means leaving before a house is sold, and even before it comes on the market. If you find yourself in a similar situation, take heart!

Selling Your Home - Nest Realty

Listing agents are used to marketing, selling and closing properties for clients well after they are gone. It’s actually easier now for buyer agents to show it whenever it’s convenient for them and potential buyers, and you don’t have to keep the place show-ready 24/7! One of the many benefits of selling an unoccupied property. Here are some things to keep in mind:

Once you have left town, no matter the reason, your agent can be your local point-person to keep things running smoothly at the property, with your help. Here are some things to think about!

Selling Your Home

1. Be sure to keep the exterior in great shape! Lawn mowed, gutters clean, driveway shoveled in places where it snows (I carried shovel in my car for vacant homes I showed in Maine winters…it’s not fun to shovel a path to the front door while clients wait inside the car, and it makes buyers wonder what else has been neglected). If you paid for these services before you moved, keep those relationships in place until closing. If you did those things yourself? Your agent can help arrange for these kinds of services to be handled for you.

Selling Your Home - Nest Realty

2. Keep the AC and heat on! It’s tempting to save money while no one is there, but having the AC in the summer keeps the place dry, keeps the mold at bay, and makes lingering more comfortable for potential buyers; ditto the heat. It keeps the pipes from freezing, and makes showings less of a desperation to leave because it’s too chilly. It doesn’t need to be overly hot or cold, just enough to be comfortable. Your agent can set these for you and adjust as needed as the season changes.

3. For inspection purposes and for visits by your agent or potential buyers, it’s important to keep the utilities on. Water, sewer (if you’re on a municipal system), electric and gas (if you’re not using propane). Again, it’s tempting to shut all those down, but the costs to turn them off and on for inspection issues, and the lack of confidence it gives to potential buyers about about which things work and which things don’t doesn’t make for a good financial decision. Your goal is to sell.

Selling Your Home - Nest Realty

4. If your home is in need of repairs, updates, or upgrades as part of the listing or showing process, your agent can help coordinate those services. Be sure to pay these service providers in a timely manner, and that your wishes and wants (materials, budget, etc.) are clearly articulated.

5. If you are gone, but you left things behind for staging, to be donated, sold, or picked up later, because you ran out of room or time to deal with them, make this a priority. Getting items removed especially if multiple parties are involved and money is changing hands requires more time and coordination than you think! Don’t leave this task until the final week before closing.

Selling Your Home - Nest Realty

6. Be sure all your mail, packages, and other deliveries are stopped. Think about things you might have on auto-ship that might not be coming for weeks or months after you’re gone!

Selling a vacant property isn’t a big deal. It’s routine for most agents, and most have a strong idea about what needs to be done to keep the selling process moving along. You should get a strong sense of confidence from any agent you hire that all the details can be handled from afar when you are in the agent-hiring phase of your transition. You may have left, but there’s no reason your property can’t sell smoothly with you and the agent working together!

Check back next week when we post Part Two of this three-part series.

Deborah Rutter is an Associate Broker at Nest Realty with passion for teaching. She knows buyers and sellers make the smartest decisions for themselves when they are armed with data and insight. She has taught first-time homebuyer education classes, and is a featured contributor on our blog. 

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