When is it time to sell a vacant house?


Gary Kelley, Realtor®
Gary Kelley, Realtor – http://www.MoveWithGary.com/
[email protected]

By Gary Kelley

We are amid a housing crisis in New England. Costs are escalating leading to an exodus from the area. According to NECN, “Cities like Austin, Texas; Seattle, Washington; Salt Lake City, Utah; Raleigh, North Carolina; and Nashville, Tennessee, were among the top places for graduates to move to when considering affordability and employment opportunities. Boston came in at number 12, making it the top city in the Northeast, followed by Washington D.C., at No. 19.” I worry about this brain drain in our area.

We’ve recently had several appointments discussing selling vacant houses. These are the houses nobody lives in and frozen in time. Here are some examples:

  1. The little ranch who could – 3-bedroom 2 bath home. The house was the parents, the last passing in 2021. The home has been vacant since 2022. Smithsonian level preserved interior…..it was just like my parent’s house in the 1970s.
  2. Six makes a half dozen – 6 family, bought 1992. 3 units vacant. Owner painting vacant units.
  3. On Golden Pond – 2 bed, 1 bath on a small lake. Bought 2 years ago to “get away locally.” Owner never returned to spend a night. Septic system failed.

Some common things on these homes:

  • Vacant homes often grow mold; they are like a green house.
  • Homes do not suddenly “fall into repair” when ignored. They fall into disrepair.
  • Insurance companies charge more for vacant homes.
  • Each home showed evidence of water damage.
  • In each case the owner was in their 70s.

Each owner asked how to get the funds to do necessary repairs. This is where a full conversation, including a mortgage person makes sense.

  • House 1 – the ranch. The owner wanted to do a complete remodel. We didn’t believe the home and the neighborhood (bordering commercial) would support this. Sell the house as is.
  • House 2 – 6 family – hire a painter to complete the painting on the three units. Let the rent fund the painting. The quicker it is painted the quicker it will cashflow. Review rent price as the property is severely under market.
  • House 3 – it’s the poster child for a contractor flip. It is too far gone to bring back. Sell as is, or get a renovation loan for the renovation (we know mortgage people for this.) While the house may be gone, the lake location is wonderful.

There is no one size fits all solution in these cases. We can help with a conversation on the options.

Need tools for home search: MoveWithGary.com.

Gary is heard on WCRN AM 830 and “All Things Real Estate Podcast” on all the major podcast outlets.

If you need advice on selling your home or buying a new one, give us a call 508-733-6005.


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