Sellers who are vacating a home for sale will often turn off all utilities before moving to a new location.
Doing so can cause a host of problems; consequently, it is always better to leave all utilities in service, even if the property will be unoccupied for a long period of time.
Here are some important reasons to keep the utilities connected in a vacant home:
#1. Showing the home. If the home is still on the market for sale, utilities are very important. Heat and AC maintain the interior comfort for home buyers. If the temperature is not comfortable, a buyer might not even make it to the second bedroom.
#2. Providing security. Some homeowners install a timer on a light fixture or lamp to automatically turn on and off at certain hours at night. A little light can make a home appear occupied. It’s also a good idea to leave a porch light on at night.
#3. Buyer’s appraiser. If the buyer is obtaining financing, that lender will hire an appraiser. The appraiser will perform certain tests that can only be performed if the utilities are working. If the utilities are not connected, many appraisers will not complete the appraisal until the utilities are turned back on. If the buyer’s appraiser cannot finish the appraisal, the buyer will not get the loan and cannot close.
#4. Buyer’s home inspection. Most buyers want to do their due diligence, which includes a home inspection. A home inspector cannot check receptacles nor test water pressure nor ensure a gas stove is working properly without utilities.
#5. Buyer’s final walk through. Many purchase contracts provide for a final walk through. This means the buyer verifies the home is in the same condition as it was when the buyer first viewed it. If the utilities have been turned off, the buyer cannot obtain this verification.
Agents can help to reduce utility costs for the seller between the time the purchase contract is approved and prior to the closing by:
- Turning off lights when leaving
- Monitoring the thermostat
- Closing drapes and blinds
- Ensuring all water valves are turned off
Bottom Line: Don’t be penny-wise and pound foolish when it comes to keeping on utilities in your vacant home.