For a variety of reasons, that include an aging population and the changing demographics here on Long Island, more and more families are finding themselves in the position of owning, being responsible for and possibly having to sell a vacant house on Long Island. Some common reasons a house on Long Island might be vacant, include the following:
- The house was inherited as part of an estate.
- The home is damaged, a hoarder house or not safe to live in for some reason.
- The house was a rental property and is now going to be sold without tenants
- House won’t sell due to its poor condition, title issues, or for some other reason.
- The owner was relocated by their employer
Having to sell a vacant house on Long Island can be extremely stressful and time consuming. While there are many things to consider when selling a vacant house, the first and most important thing that you must do is to ensure that you are taking all the necessary steps to maintain the condition and value of the house as a financial asset. Please read our tips below on how to maintain a vacant house here on Long island so you dont make some of the mistakes we have made in the past!
Best Tips To Maintain A Vacant House On Long Island
Have the right insurance coverage
We list this one first, because we believe that this is the most important thing you can do if you own a vacant house in Long Island. Many times a Long Island homeowner will get a homeowners policy for a home that they live in that often requires the home to be occupied. In the event the house will be vacant it’s extremely important to update the policy in a timely manner or you may lose your insurance coverage if your property is vacant for over 30 days. Insurance companies don’t like vacant houses, as it exposes them to more risk of a loss through damage, theft, and vandalism and through liability concerns. If any of these events occur in a vacant house and you violate the terms of the policy, which often exclude vacant houses, they will likely not pay you if there is a loss at the property. Although they are often double the cost, you should be straight up with the insurance company and get a vacant house policy until you sell the home or it once again is occupied.
Notify the local police
If you live in a village in Long Island that has its own Police Department you may want to let them know that your home is vacant. It’s worth a shot and hopefully they will keep a closer eye on your home. Some may have a system for entering your contact information into their records in the event that they need to contact you if something occurs at the property (break in, fire, flooding, vandalism, etc.). You can also give this a try with the larger departments like the Nassau County or Suffolk County Police Departments.
Tell some trusted neighbors
Let your neighbors and friends know you are selling and are no longer there and the house is vacant. You can ask them to keep an eye on it, and periodically do a drive by to make sure everything is ok. Many neighborhoods have watch groups or civilian patrols that you can notify as well. Give them your direct mobile phone number in case of emergency. This one doesn’t cost anything and can make a big difference. Of course, you may not want to do this if you have been fighting with them for the last twenty years!
Lock it up
Vacant houses are key targets for criminals, vandals, homeless people and squatters to break into. The more time it takes a criminal to gain access to a vacant house, the greater the probability someone may see this unwanted “guest” attempting to access your vacant house. Securing all possible entrances may sound like common sense but many owners of vacant houses in Long Island fall short in executing this.
Whether it’s leaving a first floor window open or a sliding glass door unlocked, making sure your vacant home is secured is critical. Ensure that you have installed good quality locks on all your exterior doors, preferably with dead bolts. Check every window in the house and make sure it is locked, including basement windows. Installing wooden or metal sticks in sliding door tracks so they cannot slide open is an easy security measure.
You might want to provide extra keys to a trusted neighbor or friend who lives close by in the event there is an emergency and the police, utility or contractor needs to get in.
Install security cameras
We strongly suggest installing a security system on any vacant houses on Long Island. While this may sound expensive, it is actually quite affordable now. While these systems used to be expensive and required drilling holes in your house and running lots of cables, this is no longer true. There are extremely affordable options that most folks can install or have installed at a reasonable price. Today’s systems have WI-Fi cameras that can often replace existing motion activated floodlights and can use the existing power source.
Since these security systems connect to the broadband signal in your house, no other wiring is needed. You will of course have to maintain the basic broadband service at the home, but we believe the extra cost is worth it. These cameras with lights are motion activated and will start recording video and sound whenever they detect movement. The video feed and audio feed can be watched lived and is automatically stored “in the cloud” so you can go back and search and watch video by date and time. Most systems come with an APP for your phone, so you can access them anytime.
We find that two cameras are generally all you need and a good flood light camera like the Ring Wi-Fi outdoor camera with motion activated floodlight can be bought on Amazon or even off the shelf at Home Depot for around $250.
Keep the lights on
Keep some lights on for sure to make sure that your home does not look like a vacant house. Make sure that your outside lights are working and they have a good quality LED bulb with a long life installed. Outside lights should come on automatically at dusk with a sensor or on a timer. Keep at least one light on for each floor. We like to keep hall lights on when there the light can be seen from the outside. You don’t want to light up an empty living room that can be seen through a picture window from the street.
Keep up outside appearance
Keep up the appearance of the outside of your Long Island home so people won’t know it’s a vacant house. Don’t fire the landscaper; especially if the house is far away from the home you live in and you are not likely to pick up their duties. If you don’t have one, hire a landscaper to take care of routine maintenance including mowing the lawn each week and shoveling the snow.
If your vacant house has overgrown grass, weed filled flowerbeds, or three feet of snow on the driveway, this can portray that nobody is around to care for the home. You also don’t want to upset your neighbors by having the house become an eyesore and you don’t want to signal that the house is vacant and make it attractive to squatters, criminals and vandals. Oh, and I know you don’t want to hear this, but you should continue to run the lawn sprinklers as you always did. Sends a strong signal that someone is still living in in the house and will keep the house looking good.
While this helps the house look occupied, it also will help you stay out of a Long Island village court for failing to maintain your property. In many villages in Long Island, homeowners can be issued a summons if the height of the grass at their property exceeds 4 inches. If you fail to keep the property up, the neighbors are usually the first to call the town!
Make sure you keep up with routine maintenance and repairs on a vacant home. If a gutter is hanging off the house, or there is some other obvious repair that doesn’t get taken care of, people may realize the house is vacant. You also don’t want to neglect routine maintenance that can end up costing you a bunch of money if you let it go too long and it ends up causing a bigger and more expensive issue to resolve.
Keep the heat and air conditioning on
We have learned the hard way on this one! In Long Island and most of New York, with our cold winters and hot summers, you cannot get away with not maintaining the temperature in a vacant house. In the winter we worry about busted pipes flooding the house and in the summer we worry about mold growing in a vacant house with a high humidity level.
During the winter we keep the heat on at 55 degrees in any vacant houses that we are rehabbing, selling or waiting to close on. In the summer we like to keep the AC running so the temperature never exceeds 75 degrees in the house if the vacant house has air conditioning. If not we will often install a window AC unit on the second floor that has a built in thermostat to try and keep the temperature and humidity level down.
Another good option in the summer that can be cheaper than running the air conditioning is to install a large good quality dehumidifier that has a drain hose that you can put in a sink so it can keep running without someone having to constantly empty it. They usually cost about $200 and often do their best work in the basement. You will want to keep the humidity level below 50% at all times to stop mold from forming.
We always install WIFI thermostats in all our vacant homes so we can monitor and control the temperature of a vacant house remotely and using a mobile phone. Once again, this is another reason to pay for broadband service at your vacant Long Island house. These thermostats can generally be bought for $30-$40 dollars more than a regular thermostat. We like the Honeywell line of thermostats the most.
Don’t let the mailbox overflow
If you have overflowing mail in your mailbox or a stack of newspapers on your front step of your vacant Long Island home, you might as well put a “this house is vacant” sign on the outside of your house. If you are unable to retrieve your mail and newspapers from your vacant house, ask a neighbor, friend, or relative to stop by a few times a week to empty your mailbox. You can also inform the local post-office that you want your mail forwarded to a different address. Having your mail forwarded can also be done in a few minutes by accessing the United States Postal Service website.
There’s no doubt about it, vacant homes can be a lot of hard work and a lot of stress. If you’re tired of spending your time and money trying to take care of and sell your vacant Long Island house, call us today at 516-704-7025 or submit your info below get a guaranteed no obligation as-is cash offer for your vacant house.