You may own a property which might happen to be vacant during the winter. Typically, property becomes vacant when you are in between tenants, or if the property is listed on the market for sale. You want to make sure that in either case, it is ready for showings at any time. There are several different ways that you can prepare for that, and there are two main areas we will focus on.
The first we are going to talk about are ways of keeping your property ready for show. Secondly, we’re gonna talk about how to secure and protect your vacant property during the winter. This includes how to winterize your property properly to prevent any damage to the property.
Keeping property show ready
Keeping your property show ready is very similar in all sorts of weather but there are extra precautions you’ll need to take especially during the winter while it’s vacant.
Curb appeal and first impressions are still important here. Make sure the yard is well-kept, that it has a manicured clean look, and keep the yard free from trash and and debris. During winter months you’re going to want to make sure that the sidewalks and the driveways are properly shoveled and salted.
You need to make sure that all windows doors are secured, that everything is locked up and sealed tight. That way you will not have any strangers, vagrants, or homeless people trying to get in an unoccupied the property while it is vacant.
Check on Property Regularly
Make sure that someone stops by and regularly checks on the property. One of the things that you want to do is make sure that the mailbox is empty and doesn’t overflow with junk mail. That is a sign for other people to know that the property is vacant or there’s no one living or renting there.
Keep some key lights on in the front part of the house, and make sure they are set on a timer so it will look like someone is actually living there.
It is important to keep the property at a comfortable level inside. You want to keep the temperature range around no lower than 65° in winter, and no higher than 75 or so in Summer. That way when people are walking through the home or units it doesn’t feel too cold or too warm
Make sure that your furnace is in working order and that isn’t old or going fail while it’s no one is occupying the property. Sometimes a checkup at the beginning of winter can prevent major issues later in the season.
If the property is going to be vacant for an extended period of time during winter, you might want to turn off the main water valve and open all of the faucets. Pipes can expand and start to freeze within 24 to 48 hours after a furnace outage, and without the water turned off, this can lead to a huge mess. It’s bad enough if a furnace breaks, having the water turned off and all of the pressure drained will prevent plumbing damage as well.
Windows should not only be locked and secured, they should be sealed uptight. You don’t want a lot of unnecessary heat loss or air moving in or out driving up your utility expense.
Keep Property Dry
If the property is in a rural area, and has a sump pump, you’re going to want to make sure that this has been serviced regularly and it is not blocked. No one wants to come back to a flooded home or property. This will prevent future mildew or unnecessary odors as well. It’s important to keep your property dry.
If you have a fireplace you’re going to want to make sure that the damper is closed and you’re also going to want to make sure the chimney has been serviced. It should be free of any obstruction at the top or the bottom. You don’t want any animals able to get in or out.
The gutters should be cleaned out. This will lessen the risk of them falling down, bending or breaking as they can get weighed down with any heavy snow packed in or ice.
If you’re not able to do so yourself, make sure you hire someone to shovel the driveway, sidewalks, and common areas as often as needed.
Secure Outdoor Areas
Securing all of your outdoor areas is also important. You need to protect your yard and garden equipment. Lawnmowers in any type of yard equipment should be locked away in the shed. All of the shrubs should be trimmed. Cover any plants that are at risk of frostbite.
If you have any valuable items such as boats, RVs, kayaks, bicycles or cars- make sure they are secured and locked away as well. If they sit out for a long time and do not move I can also be another indicator that the property is empty and you do not want anyone keeping an eye on it or they may try to steal it.
Also, you need to make sure that all outdoor furniture is secured that it may not get blown away in any strong winds. Make sure it’s tied down or put away. This includes tables, chairs, umbrellas, patio furniture, and anything else that canbe lifted or moved.
Securing a vacant property, whether it be an investment property, or another property that you happen to own and only use once in a while, is very important. One extra trip to go over there and take care of all of these items can save you a lot of time, money, and hassle in the long run.
What have we forgotten? Please let us know in the comments below if you have any extra tips that you would like to share.