Time to Close Up the Vacation Home
…tips for preparation
Vacation homes, snowbird migration, summer homes–it’s not just retiring baby boomers who have the luxury of living in two homes. Since homes sales peaked in 2006, the National Association of Realtors reports that vacation home sales are now booming again, over 50% of the sales being single family, with condo and townhome sale on the increase as well. Guess which location is the most popular second home destination? Beach areas by 40%! The country brings in 19% of sales and a home in the mountains come in around 17% of sales.
A vacation home often becomes a family legacy. The summer fun, the hikes, barbeques and swimming–all become part of the family memory heritage. Now as the days grow shorter and the leaves start to turn, the time comes to close up the vacation retreat for the season. What steps should you take?
Although each property may require a different procedure, here are some general quick tips, a timetable and a checklist you can download to get your seasonal home ready to be vacant for a while. Just a note, as my children grew up, I had them help me follow the checklist for closing up our home for the season. Now as adults, they do it for me!
2 WEEKS BEFORE LEAVING…
- Have your heating system inspected and serviced.
- Contract a licensed electrical contractor to inspect electrical system.
- Have your roof inspected.
- Clean the gutters.
- Remove shrubs, limbs or trees that might damage your home in the wind.
- Compile a list of local contractors you can call in an emergency.
1 WEEK BEFORE LEAVING…
- Make the home look as though it occupied.
- Install motion sensor exterior lights
- To discourage prowlers, put interior lights on timer to come on and off at various times.
- Make sure the mail is forwarded
- Ask a friend or hire a local property manage to periodically check your home inside and out and pick up any door hangers, phonebooks or other items that collect outside.
- Arrange for snow removal.
- Check the alarm system.
- Secure windows and doors with security locks.
- Put valuables in an off-site location, like a safety deposit box
- Do not post travel plans on social media
THE DAY BEFORE YOU LEAVE…
- Clean your home thoroughly to help discourage pests and mold.
- Empty, clean and defrost refrigerators and freezers.
- Clean and close the chimney.
- Check weather-stripping, insulation and exterior doors and windows.
- Let the police department know you have left and provide contact information.
- Unplug all unnecessary appliances.
- Unplug the refrigerator and freezer and prop the doors open.
- If possible, turn off the main water to your home (if you have a fire sprinkler system, don’t turn that off).
- Turn off the water heater.
- Drain and winterize your pipes and/or…
- Set the home temperature heat to 55 degrees or higher to keep the interior from freezing.
- Open interior and cabinet doors.
- Lock doors securely and set the alarm.
By following these procedures, your vacation home will be safe and sound all winter and ready for summer fun when you return. Safe travels!