Winterizing a vacant house

I am going to be selling my house in central Ohio. Barring an astoundingly quick sale, it will be vacant over the winter. Since I will be in Seattle during this time, I will not be here to conveniently check on the house while it is vacant. What should I do to "winterize" the house? I plan to shut off the heat. I understand the need to shut off the water & drain the pipes, as well as to shut off & drain the water heater. I've also read about putting antifreeze in the toilet. Anything else need attention? Is it advisable/feasible to blow out the pipes with compressed air? I do have a compressor.
TIA
Dan
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
As someone mentioned, turning the heat off could void your insurance policy. I would leave it on. There are alarms that will automatically call you of the temperatiure drops below a set point. I would consider leaving the heat on and not winterizing and having a temperature alarm. Having antifreeze in the toliets might send the wrong message to your buyers that you might be willing to take a lower offer since it is obliviously not lived in. Ask you broker for advice.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Dan wrote:

Use RV antifreeze- non toxic. Put in toilet bowl and all sink, shower, etc. traps.
Dishwasher and washing machine will retain water which can freeze.
Blowing out lines is a good idea.
I'm assuming city water. Ask the utility if they want to protect their meter (they blow up if frozen).
May not be a good idea to shut heat completely off; house could suffer some damage by going down to freezing.
Assume this is forced hot air system.
Jim
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Speedy Jim wrote:

Jim-Thanks for the reply. It is a forced air gas system, city water. I could leave it set at 50 or so (which is what I have done in the past when gone for 3-4 weeks in winter), I just thought I'd plan for a "worst case scenario" in the event the pilot goes out or something. Hadn't thought of the water meter, I'm guessing if they shut the water off at the curb it will drain as much as possible when I drain the inside pipes? Can't imagine they routinely remove & reinstall these under such circumstances. Also the washers, good point. Yeah, I was thinking RV antifreeze, auto kind would probably turn the bowls permanently Prestone green or Peak blue ;-) Doing the traps also good, hadn't thought of that. Anything else I'm missing, anyone?
TIA
Dan
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

Hire somebody (perhaps a trusted neighbor) to check the house a couple of times a week.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Christian Fox wrote:

A *TRUSTED* neighbor. Well that's out. Seriously, I have a guy who's done a lot of work for me on the house, I'm going to see if he'd be interested in checking maybe once a month, trouble is he lives about 25 miles away so it'll be a bit of a PITA for him. Thinking I'd pay him $75/trip or so. The house will be on the market, but a bad time of year to sell & it seems Ohio has the nation's highest rate of foreclosures, so the market's a tad soft. G.D. thing could sit quite a while, with me 2000 miles away. I'm losing sleep over it already & I haven't even left yet...
Dan
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

Talk to a realtor. If a house is priced right, it will sell in a short time. A house that is "operable" will bring a higher price and sell faster than one that is stored for the winter. I'd leave the heat on and pay a neighbor to check on it every day or two and keep it in presentable condition such as raking leaves or snow removal.
It ma be far cheaper to see a couple of thousand below what you want rather than pay much more for damages. Your homeowner's insurance may have something to say about it also.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Edwin Pawlowski wrote:

Trouble is, the market here's kinda bad at the moment. Nobody around here who's dependable (I go out of town a lot so I've tried that. Was gone for 3 weeks in July, neighbor-jerk promised to cut the grass, when I got back it was 12 inches high & I had a bright orange sticker on the front door from the city threatening to cut it for me, charge me $200 for their trouble & fine me to boot). I do have someone pretty dependable about 25 miles from here who might check every month if I pay him. Plus if the house is being shown (let's hope) the Realtor would be passing through occasionally.
Dan
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
wrote in message

look into companies which do this for a business. licensed, bonded, etc. they cater to people who go off to florida for the winter.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Dan wrote:

If the place is listed for sale, I'd expect your agent to check on it pretty frequently, since if it becomes unsellable he loses. Or else ask him to recommend a local house-sitting agency.
Chip C
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

Add the phrase "guaranteed out of range of any tropical storm". That will either make it sell, or goad someone into burning it down in a fit of fury. Either way, you're all set..
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Dan wrote:

Keeping the heat on, but low to reduce cost, will mean the home will show much better to perspective buyers. The market is not really bad right now in your area. It is just not as good as some would like and it is not coming up to the inflated prices that the auditor put on them during the re-evaluation.
Most realtors make a % of the sales price so they want it to sell as high as possible (that includes the buyers realtor as well) They are not as worried about how long it takes. If you really want to sell it, a low price will get it sold quick. You may want to talk to the realtor about what you might be able to do to get it to sell quicker. There is one home near me that was painted a, well lets call it an interesting color. It has been on the market for some time. It was recently re-painted and I expect it will be much easier to sell. They were not getting anyone interested as it was. Having your home without heat is not going to make it any more sellable and I would guess that some possible buyers would shy away wondering what damage the cold might have caused and worrying that the furnace may not work anymore.
--
Joseph Meehan

Dia duit
  Click to see the full signature.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

Well hello, neighbor! ;-) Yeah, got the note from Mr. Testa right here, mine went up 20%! The house has had major work (2 new baths, new kitchen, new paint inside & out, new carpet) and still I would be THRILLED to get the "new" appraised value.
BTW if you are from the area & haven't seen it, here's a link to the 4 part series in the Dispatch on the high foreclosure rate in Ohio: http://www.dispatch.com/reports/reports.php?story=dispatch/2005/09/21/broker.html

Agreed. Though buyers may suspect it's vacant anyway since there will be no furniture! Thanks for your comments.
Dan
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
<snip>

Joseph - I think you are wrong about this. A Realtor generally wants a quick sale (Unless its their own house). let me explain with some numbers.
House pricing - Comps in neighborhood 295,000 to 310,000. My opinion is that the Realtor will generally push for pricing at the LOW end and hope for a quick sale. 6% of 295K is $17,700, 6% of $18,600, commission is split 50/50 with buyers agent. that leaves $8,850 to $9,300 for the sellers agent. That gets split 50/50 with the corporate office. $4425 to $4650. That is a different, to the agent of only $225!! If they price at the 310K the house may sit for a long time or not sell at all. If the price it at 295K it may sell in a day or two. If you were a Realtor would you put at risk $4425 for a potential additional $225? Doesn't make sense. The Realtor also needs to weigh the relationship with the seller. If they recommend too low of a price then they may loose that client to another Realtor.
Now, on the other hand, if the Realtor is selling their OWN house they WILL set the price as high as they can because the upside is far greater for them.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
No wrote:

It is a mix on their part. They don't want to spend forever waiting for the best price, but they also know the higher they sell it for the more they get. Most contracts have a limited time so they do want to sell it during that time or they may loose the contract to someone else.
It is sort of a dance between the buyer, the seller and the realtors.
You made some good points and I would guess that is can go both ways.

--
Joseph Meehan

Dia duit
  Click to see the full signature.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

<snip>
Umm.... you've done the math well, but you've got the numbers quite wrong -- your model is at least a decade out of date ....
Most professional realtors pay their offices a monthly fee ... just like rent ... and keep one hundred percent of the sell or buy side commision (or both if they did both).
Some pay a percentage .. up to thirty percent ... until they reach a threshold... an incentive offices offer to newcomers.
Only a few absolute novices would give up fifty percent of what they earn to their office.
I buy and sell houses as part of my renovations business ... and my experience is that realtors generally want a listing that will sell within whatever the current average selling time is.
Your example of a house that looks as if it is worth between 295 and 310 is a poor one. Where the range is only five percent, it makes little difference whether the home is priced at the low or high end .... it'll sell just as quickly either way.
There's a number of variables in addition to price that dictate when or if a house will sell ... including the state of the market, location, location, location, desireability of the floor plan, condition, competing properties, pressures to buy or to sell, and on and on.
Respectfully submitted,
Ken
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Yea - Mayby this should be an entirely different thread. I agree that things vary amongst realtors. My point, given your thoughts, is still the same. The realtor is going to generally do what they can for a quick sale. This may include setting a low price, agressive marketing, what ever. Around here houses sell in a day or three otherwise they sit, having been priced too high. Once a house sits, even if the price is then lowered, people avoid looking at it. It has a stigma and people wonder whats wrong with it.
My advice to the OP would be to work with his realtor for a quick sale. It may involve setting the lowest price of all the similar houses. Price it the same as what the next smaller houses are going for. Then someone gets a 3RB for a 2BR price for example. This is better IMO than letting a house sit, unoccupide over the winter. What are his monthly carrying costs? Mortgage, utilities, insurance, maintenence, etc. Lets say 3K a month. Lower the price 18K (6 months worh of costs). You get the idea.
BTW Ken, Joeseph - There is a great book that has a chapter about why realtors push for quick sales yet their own houses sit on the market longer (the chapter title is "How is the Ku Klux Klan like a group of Real-Estate agents). The book is called Freakenomics. Check it out, it will make your head spin (Amazon.com product link shortened)
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
I have to agree with this. Personally I would rather buy a house the realator said was cheaper because the guy just moved out of state rather than one thats been sitting empty. I'd wonder how come no ones buying it. Also would not consider a house where I couldnt see the plumbing running or the furnace working, even if they guaranteed it. Empty house also invites vandals etc.

Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

Your realtor might have some views on how best to keep it saleable.
You might want to check with your insurance company to see if there are any specific requirements to maintain insurance coverage.
We have a couple of homes in cold climates ... one is our principle residence which we are allowed to leave vacant and unattended for up to three weeks at a time; the other is regarded as a secondary residence and to maintain coverage, we are required to have someone check the house daily during the heating season. (If we call it a summer residence, we can shut it down and winterize it -- but the premium is double.)
Our practice is to leave the heat on in both houses and to have whichever one we are not using checked daily. In the one we least use, we leave a bleeder valve running into the laundry tub so the line into the house doesn't freeze up (a chronic problem in that mountain community).
Ken
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

Make sure you leave ALL faucets open including the outside faucets after the water pipes are drained. My mom and dad used to winterize our Hampton Bays, NY house many winters so I can tell you from lots of experience even tho it was many years ago. No need to use a compressor if you leave the pipes open but should you use it, that's fine.
When we didn't winterize the house, we installed a gizmo (before the pc was around) on the phone in this house so we could call the house and if we got a busy signal (unoccupied house) it meant that the temperature in the house was below the thermostat setting and that meant we had to get there pronto or our water pipes were going to freeze.
Therefore in your case being too far to get there, I'd winterize the house unless you KNOW you can count on someone to watch the house. I would NOT suggest to use a management company because from my experience, they are not as attentive as they should be except when it comes to billing you. A neighbor would be best to do this task.
As some suggested, you might want to consider the pros and cons of lowering your asking price to make a quick sale but I think only you can decide if that's a good or bad thing.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

Related Threads

    HomeOwnersHub.com is a website for homeowners and building and maintenance pros. It is not affiliated with any of the manufacturers or service providers discussed here. All logos and trade names are the property of their respective owners.