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.
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.
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-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?
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
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.
I agree about getting out quick, for peace of mind if nothing else.
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.
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
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
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:
Agreed. Though buyers may suspect it's vacant anyway since there will
be no furniture! Thanks for your comments.
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
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.
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
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
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)
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
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
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
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
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.
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