Maintaining a probate home that is vacant in the Metropolitan Phoenix area can be a challenge. There are many things you can do to try to help maintain the value of the home during the probate process. If the house is going to be vacant from the time of the decedents passing until final closing of the sale here is a list of some of the top tips to consider for maintaining and preserving the value of the property during the probate process. Within this section you can also find additional facts about probate and real estate that everyone should know.
- As soon possible (and we cannot emphasize this enough) locate the home owners insurance policy. Make sure it’s current, check the expiration date contact the agent or company .Verify that there is and will be continuing coverage during the probate period. Check the replacement limits.
- Turn off the water at the main valve to the house. If the house has a watering system there is usually a separate valve for that .In most homes the valve is in front of the property located by the front water spigot. It may require some effort to close the valve but be careful not to force it too much as it could break. Any type of a water break or leak can do server damage and greatly affect the value and marketability of the property.
- Turn off the breaker to the water heater or set the thermostat to vacation if it is a gas unit.
- Turn off the breakers to the other major appliances in the house Range/oven, cook tops, micro wave ovens, washer/dryer and any other appliances that will not be in use If you turn off the refrigerator(although we recommend keeping it on at a higher setting with a box of baking soda inside) be sure to open the door and that all food has been removed and empty the ice bin.
- Leave the heating and cooling systems on, Set thermostats to a reasonable setting 82-88 degrees spring, summer 65 -68 fall and winter. Change the air filters and install deodorizer strips with the filters to maintain a fresh Oder. If the HVAC system is turned off the interior walls may expand and contract due to extreme temperatures and cause drywall cracks.
- Remove anything that may cause unpleasant odors open containers of food soiled cloths and throw rugs even clothing hangings in closets. CAUTION check all containers and pockets before discarding, sometimes elderly people hide things in cereal boxes sugar bowls and other places you would not suspect.
- At least once a month flush all toilets and run water in all sinks, tubs showers any place that has a drain. If the water evaporates from the drain traps you could get sewer odors and bugs in the house.
- Hire a landscape maintenance person to care for the yard, even if the house has all desert landscaping it still needs some care. VERY IMPORTANT BE sure that the area is treated for weeds especially in the early spring and summer. Weeds can overtake a yard in no time and it is a clear sign that the property is vacant and if it is situated within an HOA you could receive a fine. It’s much cheaper to prevent weeds than to remove them .Also have your landscaper pick up any newspapers flyers ,circulars door hangers and any trash that may accumulate around the front of the property and blow away dirt and cobwebs from the entry.
- If possible ask a neighbor to Park a car in the driveway and pick up papers and flyers as well.
- Put one or two small lamps inside on timers.
- Have cable /satellite TV, internet and phone service disconnected. If the house has a security system that is monitored you may need to leave the phone on however many newer systems are wireless and do not require a hard line. Leave all other utilities on, If you follow steps 1-3 your bills will be at a minimum and at the time of the sale you would be required to have them turned on for the inspections.
- If there is a monitored security system contact them and provide them with new contact numbers in case the alarm is set off. You may need to show some type of proof i.e. death certificate in order to change any information about the account.
- Put in a change of address so that all mail will be received by the personal reprehensive or the person responsible for maintaining the bills.
- Check to see if there is a home warranty on the property , If not Consider purchasing a home warranty, Even though the only appliances in use will be the heating and cooling systems everything else is covered. Typically you are looking at about a $300-$400 investment and that could save considerably more .Experience tell us that when breakdowns occur it’s when a house is on the market for sale or just before the close of escrow. And buyers are more secure in their decision to purchase a home with a home warrantee Should you decide not to put one on we will provide one for FREE at the time we lists the house.
- Even though estate properties are generally sold in“AS IS” condition we do a (FREE MINI) home inspection to uncover any defects that may be present. Early detection is the best way to prevent problems after the buyer has his own inspection. While a buyer may request that any repairs they require to complete the transaction be done by a licensed contractor more often than not a handy man can perform the repairs in advance for much less and therefore avoid any conflicts and save the estate money. Should you decide to not use our services we recommend that you have a home inspection done?
For additional assistance in preserving and enhaceing the value of the real property please contact us for a FREE NO OBLIGATION evaluation of the property. We will be happy to either meet with you at the site or visit on our own and give you our feedback.
As always please contact The Krone Team at (623) 777-3563 if you need any assistance with your home, the probate process, or coordinating the logistics. Our team is here to assist you “Our Clients Win is our only goal and focus!”