Your home is on the market and ready to sell – it could be snapped up any day now, but you have a vacation coming up or would like to take a trip out of town. So what do you do?
Consult your real estate agent
“Communication is at the center of real estate,” insists Todd Mobraten, former president and CEO of USRES Inc. and its subsidiary, RES.NET Inc.
Good communication between you and your real estate agent is key. Be upfront and tell your agent that you’re planning a vacation, well in advance. Your agent can tell you your options and help you develop a plan for how to handle any queries or issues in your absence.
Check in with your loan officer, lawyer, home stager, photographer, handyman, escrow officers and any other real estate professionals that you’re working with. They need to be looped in case they have to jump in to help while you’re away. Let everyone know that they may receive a call from you or your real estate agent.
If you have not already done so, give your agent the contact information of all the players on your home-selling team. In the interest of home safety, ask that all parties involved keep your trip confidential, to lessen your home’s vulnerability as a target for burglars.
Develop a plan of action
Once everyone on your home-selling team is on the same page, make sure you’re aware of what is expected of you, so you have a game plan for handling anything that comes up and know what you can manage remotely. Some things can be coordinated over the phone, via email or using signature software and other tools, but for those that can’t, make sure you have a proxy or a clear set of instructions for your real estate professional.
Your plan should also include check-ins and status updates, as well as expected response times to prevent a communication breakdown.
“The real estate transaction centers on the negotiation. It is during the offer negotiation process that communicating accurately and in a timely manner is absolutely paramount,” adds Mobraten.
Prepare your home
Before you leave, make sure your home is set to make a great first impression. Staging your home doesn’t have to cost a fortune to be effective, and goes a long way to keep a prospective buyer interested versus turning them off immediately. Ensure your home is clean, and don’t neglect the exterior. Your yard should be extra tidy and well-maintained too. Even if you normally DIY, you may need to schedule landscaping services if your vacation will be a lengthy one.
Same goes for the inside; consider hiring a cleaning service, even if you just have them come by right before you leave for vacation or just before any open houses your agent may have planned while you are away.
Owner of Accent Maid Service, Inc. Cheri Forslund says, “Using a cleaning service regularly while your home is on the market will pay off. But if you are on a tight budget use a cleaning service just for your open houses.”
And if you have pets, placing them in a pet hotel so your real estate professional and housekeeper won’t have to worry about them when entering your house may be a good idea.
Don’t forget about security
Call your security provider to let them know you’ll be out of town. Ask about off-site monitoring, video surveillance and patrols. Your provider should also have some tips on how to make it look like your home is occupied, such as the use of timed lights, and other suggestions on how best to secure your home while you’re away.
“Burglars often target unoccupied homes. Therefore, whether you’re gone for two weeks or two months, it’s important to make it seem like you never left,” Jeff Bates, CEO of Vector Security.
Piled up mail is a sure sign that there’s no one home, so be sure to have someone collect it for you or have the post office hold it until you get back.
For showings, give your real estate agent a separate alarm code for the house and ask that a list of visitors is maintained so you know who enters your home at all times. Also, ask your agent to ensure all windows and doors are locked before leaving the home.
Check your homeowner’s insurance to make sure it’s up-to-date and your coverage is comprehensive and includes personal liability coverage.
“Homeowners insurance covers the structure of your home and your personal property, as well as your personal legal responsibility (or liability) for injuries to others or their property while they’re on your property,” according to the National Association of Insurance Commissioners.
In the off-chance that there is damage to your property or somebody has an accident while you’re away, you want to make sure that you’ll be covered.
This is a great opportunity for your real estate agent to schedule multiple showings because with you out of town, your house will be like a model home. Keeping this in mind, you can relax and enjoy your vacation knowing that you’ve left your home in the care of competent professionals who have your best interests at heart.