The Right Time to Sell: Occupied or Vacant?

Toronto Real Estate News
Vacant by anemoneprojectors
Vacant by anemoneprojectors

Occasionally, home sellers manage to move to a new house before selling their old one. At this point, they are effectively selling a vacant house. Some people may not realize, however, that selling a vacant home is very different than selling an inhabited home. What’s the advice for vacant house sellers and their agents, then?

Vacant Needs Care


I already mentioned one common reason why there may be vacant houses on the market. There are a few more scenarios that lead to selling a vacant house. Consider someone who inherits a property after his or her deceased relative and wishes to sell it. And what about a bank that has foreclosed on a client and is now in the possession of the property? Surely, the bank is not going to live in the house that it wishes to cash in.

The problem with vacant houses is that they tend to run down faster than occupied properties. This is mostly because there is nobody to adjust the house to the changing weather conditions, nobody to clean the drains and pipes, nobody to mow the lawn and trim the bushes, nobody to get rid of pests and vermin. The mere fact that occupants regularly open the windows to let the air flow and vacuum-clean the floors means that there is much less mildew and dust in an occupied house that is being toured by potential buyers.

When Owners Live Nearby

Keys1 by Brenda Starr
Keys1 by Brenda Starr

So what does a real estate agent do to increase the chances of selling a vacant house? She or he must make sure that the house is visited regularly and that the basic upkeep gets done at least once a week — and this is why I say, “Don’t go too far!”

If you’re selling a vacant house, make sure that you can help the agent in her or his efforts to sell it for you. Return to the property every so often and give it the little bit of care that it deserves. You wouldn’t believe how much easier it is to sell a house that is obviously in good shape — and for a better price, too. On the contrary, attempting to sell a decaying house that looks neglected will always cost the seller dearly in terms of much lower offers.

If you have reliable neighbours or friends near the vacant house, ask their kid to mow the lawn for you once a week for a small remuneration. They will love to have a job and you will have one less worry.

If you’re not afraid to take it one step further, maybe you can ask the kid to actually visit your house and perform some basic chores for you as well. These may include airing the house, vacuum-cleaning, watering the plants, removing leaves from the drains, washing the windows after it rains, dusting the carpets, etc. Of course, such arrangements require a certain level of trust between you and your kind neighbours’ kid, but if you do have someone that you can rely on, you will certainly reap the dividends big time.

Other Upkeep Options

If you can’t visit your house often enough, discuss your options with your agent and see what can be done about the upkeep. Your agent will certainly love to help you out — especially because he or she shares the incentive to sell your house quickly and for a good price.

When it comes to foreclosures and lender-owned properties, it is all up to the agent to figure out what to do with each house. The lenders (usually banks) will seldom fund major upkeep activities or compensate the agent directly for their efforts. A good agent, however, will realize that by maintaining the market value of a property at a good level, they can look forward to a better commission when the property actually sells. Some agents don’t mind mowing the lawn themselves to improve the worth of their client’s estate.

Would you let a kid from the neighbourhood take care of your house to keep it up before it sells? Under what conditions? Please leave a comment to let me know!

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