Maybe you’ve accepted a job transfer out of state, or perhaps you’ve found your dream home and jumped on the opportunity. There are a myriad of reasons why people vacate their home before it’s sold, but doing so presents a handful of challenges and makes your home vulnerable to thieves and vandals.

Fortunately, protecting your empty home while selling it is not only simple, it’s also affordable. From using security cameras to keeping the yard in tip-top shape, here are seven simple ways to secure your vacant home.

1. Check your insurance policy.

Insurance companies are justifiably concerned about the liability a vacant home presents. You’ll want to contact your insurance company to find out how your coverage might change once you’ve left your home. You should also ask if there are specific precautions you must take to secure your home, and how long the policy will cover your vacant home. Some insurance companies specialize in offering “Vandalism and Malicious Mischief Coverage” that protects your unoccupied home.

2. Use exterior lighting.

Fortify your home against intruders by improving your home’s exterior lighting. A combination of lights on timers and motion activated lights will deter burglars. Be sure that the entrances of your home are well lit, and don’t neglect the sides of your home where intruders are less likely to be noticed. Sheds and detached garages should also be outfitted with exterior lights. There are home security systems that offer enhanced exterior lights that integrate with security cameras. When the light detects motion, the home security camera is activated and records video. You can view that video on your web enabled device.

3. Identify a local contact.

If it’s no longer convenient for you to visit your home on a regular basis, then ask someone like a friend, relative or neighbor to do so for you. If need be, pay someone to perform the service. There are companies that specialize in taking care of vacant homes by performing interior and exterior checks and making sure yard maintenance is performed regularly. There are even companies that will find people to live in your home while it’s on the market.

4. Protect your home from the elements.

Of course you’ll want to take steps to secure your home against bad guys, but you’ll also want to protect it from Mother Nature. One way to do so is by using a programmable thermostat that keeps pipes from freezing and cools the house in summer. There are several reasonably priced thermostats with built in Wi-Fi so you can adjust them remotely, and there are also those that integrate with your home automation system.

5. Alert law enforcement.

Don’t hesitate to alert your local law enforcement agency that you’ve moved out. Provide them with a list of anyone that is authorized to be on your property, and ensure they have your contact number. You’ll also want to give them the name, number and address of a local contact in case you can’t be reached. Contacting law enforcement can’t guarantee your home’s security, but if the worst happens at least you’ll be made aware of the situation immediately.

6. Keep your home security system active.

In an attempt to minimize expenses, you might be tempted to terminate your home security monitoring service. That’s a mistake. No matter what kind of neighborhood or community your home is located in, it’s a prime target for vandals and thieves. In fact, some thieves make a living from targeting vacant homes and stripping them of everything they can. Window air condition units, heat pumps, cabinets and copper are some of the hottest items. The nominal cost of home security monitoring is nothing compared to the financial nightmare you’ll face if your home is vandalized.

7. Prepare your home.

Before you vacate your home, prepare it by doing things like replacing shoddy entry doors with hard wood or steal doors that boast strong locks. You’ll also want to make sure that all windows are closed and locked and it’s a good idea to set up a few lights on timers. A home automation system gives you the convenience of turning lights on and off remotely. If your home has blinds, turn them up so nature light is let in, without telling burglars that the house is vacant. Make sure you alert your home security company that your home will be vacant and provide them with the name of the people who can access your home.

Protecting your vacant home while selling it takes a bit of forethought, but it’s easy to do and doesn’t have to break the bank. Use these seven tips as a starting point to keep your biggest investment safe while it’s on the market.

Written by Alexia Chianis

Wanderlust junky and mom of two, Alexia is a former police officer and U.S. Army Captain who draws on her experiences to write about a myriad of safety topics. Learn more

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