The best vacations are relaxing and stress-free. Unfortunately, many people have a hard time unwinding without worrying about their homes. Here are some vacation planning tips to help protect your largest investment while you’re away.
Pause your mail and deliveries. If you plan to be away for more than a week, pause your mail and deliveries or have a neighbor collect them for you. Avoid ordering any deliveries or Amazon packages in the days leading up to your vacation so they won’t pile up on your porch.
Automate your lighting. Set at least one noticeable light in your home on a timer so it will seem like someone is home. A good programmable timer will let you randomize the on/off times.
Adjust your heating or A/C system. Never turn off your heating or air conditioning when you’re on vacation. If you’re leaving during the winter, set your heat to at least 55 degrees Fahrenheit to keep pipes from freezing. If you’re leaving while it’s warm, set your A/C to around 10 degrees below the exterior temperature so large appliances won’t have to work too hard.
Shut off your water. You don’t want to return to catastrophic flooding. If you’re vacationing for more than a week, shut off your main water valve. If this sounds too drastic, at least shut off the secondary valves to your toilets, washing machine, ice-maker and dishwasher in case of leaks.
Adjust your shades. Avoid shutting your shades completely if this is something you don’t normally do. Instead, partially close your shades to obstruct the view while also promoting the appearance that someone is home. You should also double and triple-check your doors and windows to make sure they’re locked.
Pay every bill. From water and sewer to gas and electric, be sure to make every upcoming payment to prevent stressful surprises and keep your credit in good shape.
Alert your home security provider. If you have a home alarm system, notify the security company before you go on vacation. Let them know when you are leaving and when you will be home. This information will be helpful in case they have to respond to an alarm.
Arrange for lawn maintenance. Nothing says “I’m out of town” like an overgrown lawn or driveway full of snow. Contact a local service or ask a reliable neighbor for help.
Don’t forget your car. While it may be tempting to leave your car in the driveway to make it seem like someone is home, it’s generally best to store it in the garage, where it will be less vulnerable to theft and unexpected hail storms.
What if Your Home Is on the Market?
If you’re planning to leave town while your home is on the market, be sure to let your real estate agent know in advance. Good communication will help you avoid costly problems and allow you to get a better sales price. Be upfront and let your agent know about your vacation well in advance. An experienced, knowledgeable real estate agent can help you develop an action plan and handle any potential queries or unexpected issues in your absence.