A Vacant Home is an Easy Target for for Weather and Vandalism
Unfortunately, it is all too common to see a vacant home vandalized. If you have a vacant home, such as recently inherited home, it is important to keep a close eye on it and protect it. Vacant homes are the targets of two different attackers. Mother Nature and Humans. Most people think a vacant home is only at risk from the elements during the winter. Winter is the most common period for homes to be damaged if heating systems fail and pipes burst due to freezing. But spring, summer and fall can equally create problems for a vacant home.
It’s Not Just Frozen Pipes
Talk to any good builder, framer, roofer or home inspector and they will all tell you that a house needs to breathe. When a house is vacant for any period of time with windows and doors closed up, the air starts to stagnate. As the house moves through the weeks and months of the seasons, humidity will increase and decrease. A house that isn’t being used, with closed up doors and windows, is ripe for mold growth. This is one of the most common issues found in a vacant home. And it makes selling the home difficult. Especially if the mold has spread throughout and goes untreated or fully remediated.
Take Steps to Avoid Problems
If you have a vacant house, make sure it is being attended to by someone. Opening the house up periodically will help get air circulating and reduce the risk of mold growth. Especially as the weather gets warm and rain is more frequent. Unless the house has been winterized (water shut off, etc.) it is a good idea to run water through the faucets and flush a toilet or two. This will help keep air from forming in the pipes which can cause issues if left unattended. It is a good idea to also check on the mechanicals to be sure they are operating. Turn up the heat or central air to further help avoid issues. Remember, houses are “organic” and need to be used. Unused and unattended will almost certainly lead to a repair need of some amount.
Vandalism is the Other Threat
A vacant home is always noticeable. Once it is apparent that the house is empty and no one is checking on it, vandals are more likely to target the house. One of the immediate areas targeted are mechanicals. Specifically the copper used to feed the baseboard heating. If the copper is cut out of the house, it can costs thousands of dollars to replace. And that is assuming no additional damage was done in the process of it being removed. Other forms of vandalism are mainly just that, vandalism. Kicking in doors, breaking windows, defacing walls, pulling down cabinets, ruining floors…the list goes on. And an insurance company may not cover the losses if the policy was not designed for vacant home coverage.
“It Happened to Me”
I’ve heard this comment one time too many. Especially when talking to sellers of inherited homes or investment properties that are unoccupied. Damage occurred for one reason or another but the owner cannot handle the cost, time or effort of repairs. In these cases, the first option may be to list the house on the MLS under the “as-is” label. Depending on how much damage was done the house may still meet lender criteria. But, listing the house on the MLS can take time and, for some, time is not always an option. In these cases, we recommend that you explore all possible options to sell the house and/or protect yourself financially if there are debts against the property (e.g. tax liens, mortgage payoff, etc.).
Contact us. We’ll help you understand the options and look at next steps. Of course, as always, there is no obligation to a call with us.