Whether you're shutting down a summer home, vacating an investment home or simply moving before you've found a buyer, it can be intimidating to close a house down to sit vacant. Though it seems complex and has potentially high consequences for failure, the process is pretty easy if you take it step by step. Though some steps below will apply only to some reasons for closing a house, if you keep them in mind you should find yourself successful.
Go Off Grid
Cancel or forward mail service using the US Postal Service website (see resources below).
Cancel unnecessary delivery service such as drinking water and newspapers.
Cancel unnecessary utilities like cable, garbage service and even water or electricity. If closing a seasonal home, check into the startup fees for each service, or find out if you're currently benefiting from a low promotional rate. In some cases paying for the service during off-season months may be less expensive than paying startup fees or a raised rate.
Clean Up and Close Up
Thoroughly clean the home. Depending on your level of neatness, this may or may not mean a total organizational blitz. Regardless, it will be important to scrub and dry the sinks, toilets and other wet areas to prevent mold growing during your absence.
Turn mattresses on end to reduce the amount of surface area touching the ground, which reduces the potential for mold.
Cover furniture with blankets and sheets from the house. This protects the furniture from fading and lets the linens air out over the off season.
Empty, wipe down and unplug the refrigerator. Use a towel to chock the door open. If there is frost in your freezer, you'll want to wait until that has melted and been cleaned up before you leave.
Leave appliances that close open at least a crack to prevent mold.
Go through the yard or grounds and collect any tools, toys or items left outside. Put them away appropriately.
Close the storm shutters, if necessary. Some homes will also have seals for the doors to prevent leakage from high snow banks.
Set the thermostat for 40 degrees if you live in a climate with severely cold weather. This is warm enough to prevent most damage, but cool enough to keep the energy bill low.
Turn the water off at the street. In some districts this requires water company help, but it's largely a matter of finding your access and turning the stop. If you expect cold weather, run all faucets until they're dry after doing so. This will prevent frozen pipes.