Preparing a home for winter is always important, and when sellers are moving out, it becomes even more critical. Freezing temperatures can lead to huge internal problems, which have a tremendous impact on home value, cost of repairs, and closing speed. An unexpected cold snap can lead to damage and disaster even in warmer climates.
What Is Winterization?
The definition of winterizing is preparing a home that may be vacant for a while. Estate properties, foreclosed homes, HUD housing, and those properties that have gone on the market after a seller relocated are all at risk if they aren't properly winterized. No one may be on-site to ensure that pipes don't freeze.
10 Key Steps to Prevent Winter Damage
Before cold weather hits, make sure to use these steps to prevent damage to a home.
Avoid frozen pipes. When water freezes in pipes, they may burst, resulting in flooding throughout a house. Keep the thermostat on at least 55 degrees. Insulate pipes, keep doors slightly open (to allow heat to circulate), and allow faucets to drip to keep water flowing. You might consider shutting off water in the house completely.
Antifreeze in the toilet really works. Flush out the toilet, shower, and sink traps, and use non-toxic antifreeze to prevent them from icing up.
Seal-off leaks throughout the house. Weatherstripping, caulk, and window insulation keep warm air inside the home.
Drain appliances that hold water and unplug all appliances. Washing machines, water heaters, ice makers, and dishwashers are among the appliances that should be flushed out to winterize a home. Refrigerators should be thoroughly defrosted and propped open to avoid mold and mildew.
Check the roof and gutters. When leaves and other debris clog gutter systems, water can't drain properly, and that could ultimately result in gutters separating from the roof. In addition, insulating the attic can prevent problems with the roof of a house, especially when ice and snow accumulate and may not melt properly.
Don't forget the outside of the house. Drain and turn off the garden hose. Make sure to arrange for snow plowing and de-icing of walkways, especially if the house will be shown to prospective buyers. You want to make sure no one slips on the ice or can't navigate the driveway or front door.
Make sure the home is free of food. A cleaner home is less likely to attract rodents and other unwanted visitors looking for warmth and comfort during those chilly winter months. Mothballs can prevent infestation by insects.
Have the fireplace carefully inspected. Close the flue and any hearth doors. This will keep cold air from getting in and help ensure that birds and bats can't get into the house.
Avoid fire and safety hazards. Low hanging branches, big firewood piles outdoors, and undisposed trash can also lead to dangers in winter and year-round.
Hire professionals to evaluate and winterize the home. The small investment you make in experts is well worth the cost. When not properly winterized, homes can become frigid disasters — burst pipes, unwelcome animal "guests," and rushes of freezing air amidst showings can all lead to problems for the owner and prospective buyer.
Heat Up Your Real Estate Career
Real estate agents will find themselves "out in the cold" when a seasonal or year-round home is unattractive during the winter months. When you take on a listing during that time of year (especially when the house will be vacant), ensure all 10 of these steps have been followed. Not only will the home be safer and present better, but the selling price may be higher as a result. You may even be able to avoid the selling slump that typically happens from November through February!
Aceable can help you be a hot agent in any season. Sign up for a course today.