Real NEastate: What should I do to protect my vacant house?

Q: I have an investment house in Tacony that I am selling. The tenants have moved out and now it is empty. I don’t want to try to get another tenant, but I am worried about someone breaking in and ripping out the plumbing or something. How can this be avoided?

A: It is so easy for someone to illegally enter a vacant house. They can break down the door or break a window and, since no one is there, thieves and vandals are free to wreck havoc by having parties, stealing anything and everything worth value, or leaving the water on to do even more damage when they leave.

I have seen vacant homes for sale that have been broken into and sustained extensive damage – basically stripped. This can kill the value of a home and cost an owner thousands of dollars to either repair, or take a devastating loss on the property.

The National Association of Realtors has a few suggestions to keep your property protected:

1. Hire a security company or install an alarm. You may not think there’s anything valuable inside, but you’re protecting an investment that is worth much more than a flat screen.

2. Ask the neighbors to keep an eye out on the property. If you don’t know them, now is the time to introduce yourself. They’ll likely be on your side because they won’t want their property to lose any value.

3. Talk to local police about patrolling the area more frequently. If you can get a patrol car to swing by every now and then, it could deter potential criminals.

4. Find someone to live in the home temporarily. You may not want another tenant while the property is for sale, but it might be best for you.

If you plan on leaving your home vacant during the winter months, make sure your home is winterized as well. Not taking care of it when it’s empty can sometimes deal as much damage as a vandal or thief.

Stacey McCarthy is a real estate agent with the McCarthy Group of Keller Williams. Her Real NEastate column appears every Wednesday on NEastPhilly.com. See others here. Read other NEast Philly columns here.

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