Prepping Your Home for Vacation

Real Estate Advisor: May 2015
image empty space

Prepping Your Home for a Vacation

Vacations are a time to relax and escape from regular life. When you’re miles from home, the last thing you want to worry about is the safety of your home. If you plan on taking a vacation this summer (or any time this year), here are some simple tips on prepping your home for a vacation.

Mail - Prepping Your Home for Vacation

Stop Your Newspaper and Mail

One sure sign of being absent from your home is a pile of newspapers in the driveway. Contact your newspaper delivery person and stop service while you’re gone. If you don’t have a locked mailbox, contact the post office and have them hold your mail. You can also ask a trusted neighbor to collect mail, newspapers and deliveries and have him/her hold them for you until you’re back.

Park Your Car in the Garage

The last thing you want is to get home from a vacation and have your car gone. If you can, park your car inside the garage, or have a family member park it at his/her house. You can also ask a neighbor to park their car in your driveway, making it look like someone is leaving each morning.

Put a Light on a Timer

A dark house stands out in a neighborhood, especially when all the other homes are lit up. Before you leave, buy a timer and install it on a lamp in your home. It’s also a good idea to install a motion-activated sensor on an outdoor floodlight that will be triggered should someone walk by it. You can also ask a neighbor to turn on the front porch light in the evening.

Grass - Prepping Your Home for Vacation

Mow Your Lawn

Grass can grow pretty fast in two or three days. If you have a lawn, make sure it’s trimmed before you embark on your trip. If you’re going to be gone longer than a week, ask a family member or neighbor to cut the grass in the front yard while you’re away.

Some of these items are easily overlooked, but could cause major issues when you’re away:

Unplug Small Appliances and Electronics

Small appliances and electronics can be energy vampires when plugged in, and some are still active even when they look like they’re turned off. Before you leave, unplug those items that won’t be used while you’re gone (coffee makers, toasters, espresso machines, etc.). It’s also a good time to make sure all smoke detectors work properly throughout your home.

104507784 - Prepping Your Home for Vacation

Turn Down the Thermostat

Your thermostat makes sure your home maintains a specific temperature throughout the day. Before you leave, set the thermostat to a lower temperature if the house is going to be empty. This will help conserve energy while you’re gone. If you do turn down the thermostat, be sure to keep your home at a temperature that will still protect plants, pets and furniture.

Put the Water Heater in Vacation Mode

Traditional water heaters heat water throughout the day, even when you’re not using water. Before you head out on a vacation, put the heater in vacation mode. Check to see if your water heater has a VAC setting — which is for vacations. If it doesn’t, you can turn down the thermostat to the lowest setting. But don’t stop at the water heater: turn off water valves to the dishwasher, washing machine and any sinks. The last thing you want to come home to is a flood in your house because a pipe broke or a hose burst.

Garbage - Prepping Your Home for Vacation

Tidy Up the Kitchen

Before you leave it’s always a good idea to clean out the fridge and dispose of anything that will go bad while you’re gone. The sink can harbor things that cause bad smells — run a half cup of vinegar and some water through the garbage disposal to alleviate any potential buildups, and make sure to take out any trash and recycling so you don’t come home to a smelly house. If you have a trusted neighbor, ask them to put your garbage, recycling or yard debris bins out on pickup day.

Leave Emergency Contact Info with Neighbors

You may tell your family that you’re heading out, but you should also let a neighbor know. Neighbors live near you and can be your first point of contact should something happen to your home while you’re away. Let a trusted neighbor know you’re going to be out of town — provide them with information on where you’re going, how long you’ll be gone, and contact information for yourself and for family members in case of an emergency.

Shared from May issue of Real Estate Advisor


For all the talk about people abandoning suburbia for urban cores, American moving trends still gravitate towards less dense spaces. According to a recent review of Census data by Trulia Chief Economist Jed Kolko, most movers in the US trend towards “lower density, lower unemployment, and cheaper housing.” This is illustrated by continued shifting from major high-density urban centers to smaller 18 hour cities and suburbs. Nearly half of these between-county moves are less than 100 miles, and 38% are less than 50 miles. “With the exception of the three moves that are the reverse flow of a higher-ranked move,” Kolko writes, “all of the 10 top between-county moves are from a higher-density county to a lower-density county — in other words, to a less urban, more suburban county.” This suggests that American suburbanization continues unabated by the re-popularization of urban cores.

Perhaps central to this trend is a movement towards inner suburbs, along with the “incrementally urbanizing” and redevelopment of outlying suburbs to bolster their appeal to city dwellers. Different types of suburbs exist, but many people consider the suburbs to be one single trope: cul-de-sacs and matching homes, manicured lawns and white picket fences. From the standpoint of an investor or potential homeowner, understanding how urban trends translate to the suburbs can make all the difference with finding a region that will thrive in the changing housing economy and avoiding property in one of the oft-mentioned “dying suburbs.”

Key to teasing out the differences between sustainable and unsustainable suburban growth is developing an understanding of what makes suburbs appeal to consumers (and what does not). The suburban model is largely based around single family homes that offer more space than their urban counterparts at a lesser-or-equivalent price point. Suburbs traditionally center on families, and schools and safety are paramount to a successful suburban community. People who criticize suburban living often find problems with its sense of isolation from wider culture and community. Other criticisms include long commutes, car-centric culture, and tendency towards “beige-ness.”

Taking these considerations into mind, finding suburbs that draw from the positive and avoid the negative is key to a successful buy. What trends should a homebuyer or investor look for when hunting for a perfect burb?

Good deal indicators. Often referred to as inner or first-ring suburbs or railway burbs, communities right beyond the city limits of major cities are growing in popularity, especially when fitted with public transit access to the city. Closer suburban cities tend to mirror many of the characteristics of the cities next to them, often including revival downtown spaces of their own to direct commerce to the city center. Suburbs that model themselves after the 18 hour city culture are also poised to attract creative industry business, young professionals, and Boomer retirees, making them a safe investment.

Less than ideal. Further flung suburbs can be more difficult to assess for their investment value. Take particular note of whether the city seems to have a centralized commerce space or is reliant primarily on strip malls and big box stores. Mixed residential/commerce centers are a sign that the town is shifting away from sprawl-model suburbia. Be wary of cities whose commerce is centered on very “vanilla” office parks or a monocultural economy.

Make sure to avoid. Anything defined by sprawl and endless parking lots. Anything that presumes the growth of tract housing for local economic health. Any exurb that is reliant on the closest city for its economic base and sense of identity. McMansions are unpopular with younger demographics who are looking to live smaller and cheaper, as well as their Boomer counterparts who are looking for simplicity. While cultural trends do shift, investment professionals suggest trending with what Millennials and Boomers are interested in . . and avoiding things they aren’t.

Shared from Realty Times.

3655 Murfreesboro Pike

3655 Murfreesboro Pike