Leaving Your Home Vacant: A Checklist for Out-of-Town Sellers

By Breanna Albrecht | Feb 01, 2018 | Fort McMurray - Seller Advice

Selling a Vacant Home

So you are planning to sell your Fort McMurray property? - Very exciting!

You may be planning to leave town. Perhaps you left a while ago and rented your place?

Maybe your tenants just moved out? Maybe both?

Whichever is true, this post is for you, as long as you intend to leave the property vacant for some or all of the listing (it can be a good idea).

Below you will find a checklist of what to do if you are selling your home vacant and still want to attract buyers to get the best possible price for your home


Over half of the homes that I have listed for sale today are vacant. This seems to be a common theme in Fort McMurray, at least these days. There are pros and cons to having a vacant home while listed for sale, actually!

It is really convenient for showings because we can get REALTORS® and buyers in easily to see the home (don’t have to worry about giving notice to the occupants), but there are some extra things that will need to be looked after while it is for sale.

It is important to know that buyers will still expect certain things to be done, even if you aren’t living there. Check out the checklist below so you can be prepared. This way you can enjoy the benefits of a vacant listing, and hopefully, avoid some of the headaches!


1.) Shovel your driveway/walkway or cut the grass/weed. Snow shoveling is very important as we don’t want buyers to get frustrated with wet feet before they even reach your front door! In the warmer months, if you don’t keep the grass trim, then this can give buyers the impression that the home is not well maintained.

Buyers (and everyone else) prefer shoveled driveways

2.) Park vehicles (if applicable) away from the front door. If you need to leave a vehicle at the home, then do your best to either park it in the garage or on the far side of the driveway (away from the front door) so that the buyers can park close to the front door. We want to make it easy for them!

3.) Have it cleaned before you list the home for sale and have it dusted every few weeks or so. Again we want buyers to be impressed and to show them that you take good care of your home, so having a cleaner in every once in a while to dust and wipe down windows/mirrors will go a long way.

4.) Leave the front porch light on at all times so REALTORS® and their buyers can find the front door lock when they are heading in. This removes frustration (we don’t want the agent showing your home to be frustrated before they even enter!). Even if you are listed for sale in the summer, a light on at the front door can be warm and be inviting. Yes, your electricity bill will be a tad bit higher, but it will be worth the small investment. You could even put a small label on the light switch for the front light asking buyers to leave it on.

5.) Leave some kind of air freshener in the home to stop it from smelling musty. If your home is vacant, it may end up smelling a bit musty due to stale air.  Be sure not to put in too many air fresheners though as buyers might suspect that you are trying to hide some other smell. There is definitely a fine balance here and your friendly A-Team listing agent would be happy to help if you are looking for a second opinion…

6.) Leave the temperature in your home set to 21 degrees Celsius. We want your home to be warm and inviting, even when it is -20 degrees outside! If it is summer, then be sure your air conditioning is on so it doesn’t get too hot inside. Again your utility bill will be a tad higher because of this, but you will not regret it! In summer, consider leaving blinds half closed and in winter, consider leaving them open to let in plenty of natural light.

7.) Cancel your newspaper and consider leaving a “no junk mail” sign on your door to avoid papers piling up on your front porch (which will only be in the way when buyers come to visit). This would also be good to do for security reasons (don’t want to make it obvious that your home is vacant).

Canceling flyers and newspapers clears the clutter

8.) Replace light bulbs that are burned out and leave some extras in an obvious place in your home for whomever it is looking after the house to be able to replace them easily. Again this goes back to ensuring your home is warm and inviting, but also shows that the home is well maintained.

9.) If it is winter, consider having your home winterized so that there are no issues with pipes freezing and unwanted flooding or other headaches.

10.) Keep in mind that your insurance company will likely also require that you have someone checking on your home regularly. To find out how often you need to check in so that your insurance remains intact, contact your insurance company directly.

There are property management companies in town that can help with these items, however, we can also help if you are listed with The A-Team - please just ask! I hope you find this list helpful! Please feel free to share with friends and to reach out if you’d like personalized advice.

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Breanna was the #1 listing agent in Fort McMurray in 2016 & 2018 by number of sales. Breanna founded The A-Team with her husband, Tom. She holds a degree in finance. She is a specialist listing agent in both Fort McMurray and Calgary.

1 Please note: This checklist is just a good start. There may be other things to think about, depending on your situation and the home itself!