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6 Safety Tips for Selling a Vacant Home

Listing and selling a vacant home can be stressful. The unfortunate reality is that a vacant property is a vulnerable target for vandals and the chance of the home being broken into increases. To avoid this, it is best to make the home appear lived in to deter all possible mischief.

According to Adrian Goslett, Regional Director and CEO of RE/MAX of Southern Africa, selling a vacant home is also more challenging because buyers often struggle to picture how the home will look once they have placed their own furniture inside.

“Even though no-one is currently living in the home, it doesn’t need to be empty. A bare home can seem less homely to potential buyers. At a minimum, your agent should take photos of your home fully furnished, which would deter criminals who are scoping for targets online. Beyond this, it could be helpful to hire furniture or to leave some furniture behind to showcase the home to potential buyers,” Goslett recommends.

Beyond this, RE/MAX of Southern Africa provide the following safety measures homeowners can implement when selling an empty home: 

  1. Inform the neighbours

Sellers should Inform the neighbours and the neighbourhood watch (if applicable) that they are selling a vacant home and ask them to make contact if there is anything requiring the owner’s attention. Sellers could also request that the real estate agent marketing the home checks in on it from time to time. 

  1. Install a home security system

If the home does not currently have a security system, install one. It will keep the home safer and may also increase its value. For many prospective homebuyers, security is a determining factor in their decision-making.


  1. Check the home insurance policy

Some aspects of the owner’s household insurance coverage might change once they have left the property. Homeowners should check this and should also find out how long the policy will cover a vacant home. Some insurance companies may offer Vandalism and Malicious Mischief Coverage that protects the property once the owner has moved out.

  1. Use timed lighting on your vacant home

To further deter criminals, try motion activated lights or set the lights on a timer so that they turn on during the evenings to give the appearance that someone is home. Ideally, there should be sufficient lighting for the interior and exterior of the home, as a poorly lit home allows criminals the opportunity to hide.


  1. Never allow the mailbox to overflow

Homeowners will need to update their forwarding address and make regular visits to the home to pick up any mail as an overflowing mailbox is a tell-tale sign of a vacant home. Alternatively, ask the neighbours, friends, or possibly even the estate agent to stop by the property occasionally to empty the mailbox.

  1. Maintain the exterior of the home

An overgrown lawn is another tell-tale sign that the home is not inhabited. Even though no-one is currently living in the property, it stills needs to be regularly maintained. Not only will maintaining the home deter trespassers, but it will also make the home more attractive to prospective buyers.

“While selling an uninhabited home can be a daunting task, using the above tips will help to ensure that the process is as hassle-free as possible. Using an experienced real estate professional from a reputable brand will also expedite the process and ensure a quick and seamless sale,” Goslett concludes.

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