Dear Kathe,

With Halloween approaching, I am wondering what tips you might have about selling a vacant home – it seems they can be a little spooky?

It is certainly important, whether your home is inhabited or not, that you keep your home from looking like a haunted house, at Halloween and throughout the rest of the year! Most buyers are driven to buy by their emotions – a scary looking house from the curb is not going to create a warm feeling for your buyer prospects. Keep your lawn mowed and your shrubbery trimmed – winter is approaching so its definitely time to do your final mow and yard clean-up. Beware of faded or chipping exterior paint – if your home suffers from this problem now is definitely the time to book a painter for spring. Also make sure that your windows are clean and in good repair and your sidewalk and driveway are also in well-maintained condition. These are important tips for all homes, and will go a long way to create a warm feeling from the curb.

Vacant homes do need additional thought if they are going to present well to buyer prospects. They must always be clean – dead bugs should not be apparent – a quick clean twice a month should be adequate. All light bulbs should be working, bright and not the kind that are slow to warm up. Leaving a light on a timer in a couple of rooms is a good idea – if a buyer has a strong interest they will often drive by at night and you don’t want your home to look dark and scary. Keep your home at a reasonable temperature – walking into a 55 degree home is not the least bit appealing on a cold day – programmable thermostats can help you keep your bills down. Condition is absolutely key in a vacant home — if buyers aren’t distracted by your things, they are far more likely to notice everything wrong with your home.   If you have moved out, be sure you have moved everything out – it can be disturbing to a buyer to see that you have moved out but have left closets or cabinets full of your things. Finally, ask your agent whether you should have your home professionally staged – its not cheap, but professional staging helps to make a house feel more like a home to your prospective buyers.