A vacant home might be for sale for any number of reasons. Perhaps the previous occupant decided to take that job on the other side of the country. Maybe the owner passed away recently, or the family moved out in anticipation of the birth of a new child.
Regardless of the reason the home is vacant, there are some special considerations to think over when buying a home that isn’t currently occupied.
Inspections are less effective when utilities aren’t working
If the home has no electricity when your inspector comes to check out the place, the inspector won’t be able to see if appliances are in good repair or check for potentially faulty wiring. With no running water, it’s much more difficult to check the plumbing for leaks or cracked pipes. You’ll need utilities turned on to see if the heating and cooling systems are in decent working order, too. In most cases, you can probably get the utilities hooked up for an inspection. But as the buyer, you may have to foot the bill. But without working utilities, your inspector may not catch some potentially serious (and expensive) issues with your new home.
Also, it’s worth keeping in mind that many vacant homes are unoccupied because of a bank foreclosure. Cash-strapped previous occupants may have neglected or put off some necessary home maintenance. You’ll want to be that much more diligent in looking the place over for issues that might cause trouble down the road.
Homes that aren’t occupied by people might be occupied by pests
A home with no people living in it attracts all sorts of other creatures looking for shelter. Bats could be nesting in the attic. Squirrels, mice, rats, and even possums can take up residence in a home’s walls or beneath its floors. The longer the home has been unoccupied by humans, the more likely it is that other four-, six-, or eight-legged creatures have moved in. Long-unoccupied homes might have serious termite issues, ant problems, wasps, or roaches.
Considering a currently unoccupied property? Look very carefully for signs of pests that might be living in the space now. Plenty of pest control companies offer inspection services to check for signs of bugs or other wildlife. Paying a few hundred dollars to inspect the home for pests before you buy could save you thousands in potentially costly animal and pest removal services down the road.
Vacancy complicates homeowner’s insurance
Typically, homeowner’s insurance stops covering a home once it’s been vacated. If the previous homeowner’s insurance policy has lapsed, it may be very difficult to find new insurance coverage. Insurance companies are wary of insuring vacant homes because vacant homes are easy targets for broken windows or other vandalism. A vacant home in disrepair is also risky in terms of potential injuries or accidents. You may be required to pay more for a special vacant-home insurance policy. Or, you may pay extra to have a vacancy endorsement added to a regular homeowner’s policy. At the very least, you can probably expect an insurance agent to come check the home before the insurance company will agree to insure a currently-vacant property.
Is that empty home just waiting for you to move in? We’re ready to help.