The appeals of buying an already vacant house can attract some buyers. There is no need to wait for the owner to buy another house, they are already moved out, and it will be move-in ready as soon as the deal is complete.
However, not many buyers consider the damage a vacant house can have. When a house sits empty there can be problems with the plumbing, electrical, and even with pests.
When a house sits for a long time the pipes can take some damage. Homeowners do not always properly shut off their water and this can lead to problems for a buyer.
If the pipes are not drained and then shut off the water can sit inside of them for too long. The seals around the pipes can dry out and become cracked. If the weather becomes too cold the standing water can also cause the pipes to burst.
Always check the plumbing before making a purchase. If an inspection is going to occur ask if the pipes can be turned back on for a few days. This will help the inspector see if there are any leaks or problems with the plumbing.
If the water is left off the buyer will only find problems after they turn the water on, after the purchase has been made.
Potential buyers love when there are appliances included. That means there is one less expense once they move in. However, these appliances may become damaged if they have not been used for months at a time. Some appliances will become stuck or seize up if they have not been used. Once they are turned back on they may leak or break.
Ask to test out appliances before the sale is complete. Run the fridge, washer, dryer, or dishwasher to make sure they all function properly and without any leaks.
If they will not allow for a test run, ask for compensation for potentially faulty appliances. See in they will lower the price to accommodate for replacing the appliances.
Similar to pipes bursting or leaking, faucets may also become damaged when left unused in a vacant house. If the pipes are galvanized steel there can be mineral build-up in the pipes. This build-up will block the water from flowing out of the faucets. If any faucets drip or have very low pressure it is likely they have this build-up.
By running the hot and cold water at the same time it can clear any air that has become trapped in the pipes. When running the water be sure to remove the aerator from the faucet to allow the water to flow freely. If there is any build-up on the aerator be sure to replace it once the faucets are flowing freely.
If there are no humans inside of the house, many animals will make it their home. Small animals like squirrels, bats, and birds, will take the opportunity to climb into any small holes. They can create a large problem if there are a lot of them hiding under the roof or inside of the walls. Larger animals like raccoons or opossums may try to live under the house as well.
Call a pest control and ask for an inspection. A house inspector may be able to identify a problem, but they are not always well versed in spotting well-hidden pests. A pest control inspector will be able to detect any problems before the buyer takes over. The costs of having pests removed can be factored into the offer on the house if the current owner will not take care of the problem.
Unless a house is sold quickly, sitting empty can spell trouble for the buyer. Homeowners do not always take the proper precautions to protect against plumbing or electrical problems. They may not know about new problems with the house and cannot disclose these problems to potential buyers. Pests often like to sneak in when a house is vacant.
A thorough inspection by a home inspector and pest control is vital to making sure a vacant house is sale ready.