How to sell a vacant house for top dollar
Do you have an unwanted property sitting vacant, “deteriorating” away?
Maybe windows have been smashed, the interior trashed, and code enforcement notices are piling up?
In either case, I want to show you how to sell a vacant property quickly and hassle-free — while still getting the most dollars for its value.
First off, let’s talk about why it’s difficult to sell a vacant house…
Then we’ll transition into some serious liability issues.
Why you can’t sell a vacant house…
If you’ve only been vacant for a couple of months… then you’ll have no issues selling it.
However, the problem exists when you have missing/broken items (even small ones) where no bank will loan on the house. And if a bank doesn’t loan a property, no traditional buyer can purchase it.
Here’s a list of “property criteria” that a bank needs to see before lending on it:
- No termites or wood-destroying insects
- No damage to the roof
- No damage to the exterior (cracks in walls, beams showing, compromised wall, etc)
- No foundation damage
- No loose writing
- No exposed electrical
- All utility functioning properly
- Must have safe and reasonable access
- The heating system must be operating normally and heat the house properly
- No chipping or peeling lead-based paint
- Adequate access to crawl spaces and ventilation in crawl spaces
- Properly functioning water heater
- Access to tap water
- No mold or any other health concerns (like animal or human feces)
- No safety concerns (like having a steep staircase without handrails)
- Must be considered “marketable” (Can it sell? Is it pleasing to buyers?)
If any one of these is “broken”, then can’t get a buyer to get a loan on it until it’s fixed.
To figure out beforehand, if you need any crucial items fixed before listing… then, it’s best to get an inspection done (Usually costs anywhere from $250-$500), so you can get a list of things to tackle.
Or you can always call your local cash buyers JiT Home Buyers, to give you a fair cash offer to buy it off your hands as it sits… we love taking on these projects! Just call us at: 504-355-1447
Liabilities of keeping a vacant house
Let me encourage you to not let your house sit for too long…
You see, right now, in your city and surrounding areas, there are squatters on the lookout for houses like yours. A house they can break into and take shelter in.
Then they move their stuff in… they use your toilet (even if it doesn’t flush)… they leave trash… they start fires to warm up… the rodents then follow…
All these things pile up.
And an overlooked big liability is children getting hurt and their parents suing you because the door was unlocked (I guess the squatters forgot to lock it)
I know this sounds like fear-mongering, but it does happen. You see it from time to time in the local news about kids playing in a vacant house and getting hurt.
Don’t let a vacant house sit for too long. People move in, repairs pile up, and the house deteriorates.
How to value a vacant house
This can be a tough one especially if you’ve got a bit of updates that need to be done, or any bank loan-required items are missing.
In order to get a value of your house, you need to find similar homes like yours in size and condition that have recently sold in the 6 months to 1 year. But the problem is that a lot of vacant homes (that need work) don’t typically sell in the open market. They sell off-market to investors or family members.
Just know that if your property needs work done, the house will be worth significantly less than the updated retail homes selling on the open market.
NOTE: check out our article on “how to fix a property and what items are work remodeling”
Who you can sell to
If your house won’t be able to sell to a traditional buyer (a family looking for a “move-in ready” home), then your only option is an investor.
They are usually the only ones willing to fix up a house (sometimes you find a family that loves rehab projects and have the type to fix up their primary residence, but they are rare to find).
So with that, you have two choices:
- Sell on the open market waiting for an investor to make an offer — (Investors on the open market typically buy at a big discount AND you still have to pay closing costs and agent fees)
- Or… Sell it off-market to an investor, without an agent — (there are SOME investors that go directly to the property owner (like us), who’ll make you a fair cash offer with no fees or closing costs attached.