I was out showing a vacant home today and had to wait a few minutes before my buyers showed up. As I was waiting, I happened to turn on the kitchen faucet. Surprise! The water was on! This over 30 year old home had been on the market and unoccupied for over 100 days, and the water had been active all of that time. It is possible that before it was listed it had spent even more time in this same state.
This is not the first time I have seen this. And it always amazes me why an agent would not advise his/her sellers to turn off the water at the meter, or some other shut-off point, if the home will be vacant. Too many things can go wrong and they can be very costly to fix. Yet leaving the water running to all of the faucets offers NO benefits whatsoever. So why leave a home that way? It has to be either forgetfulness, laziness, or incompetence on the part of the listing agent.
I had another friend who is an agent and she was complaining because some buyer had "dared" to flush the toilet in one of her listings. Sorry, buyers will often try out different things in a home. Well, in this case, the flapper valve did not engage completely, and the water kept running and running and running! Since this was not a popular listing, we calculated that the water ran continuously for 3 months!!!! Imagine what the sellers had to say when they got their bill. Of course, they also had to pay for the water going down the sewer as well! The agent blamed the buyer, but why was the water left on in the first place? The agent has to also be responsible and proactive. Guess who the sellers blamed????
All you need is for one pipe to break, a valve to not close completely, a hot water heater to die, or a washing machine supply hose to split, and then you will have a huge problem on your hands. Not only will you have water to get rid of, but your drywall, carpeting, furniture, molding, appliances, cabinetry, etc will be destroyed. Then comes the fun of having a home where mould will grow in every nook-and-cranny due to the invasiveness of the moisture. With our Florida heat, the mould will be in fungus paradise. And you know how scared buyers are concerning mould today!
But your insurance will cover all that. Right? Maybe. But here in Florida after you make your claim, do not be surprised if after your check arrives in the mail, another nice letter comes telling you that your policy is being cancelled. Or at the very least your premiums are going to rise.
When I list a home that will be vacant at some point, I tell the sellers to keep the water service active with the utility company, but to shut off the valve(s) to the home when they leave. They are also told (and I double check this) to turn off the hot water heater so that it does not boil dry. Some homes have two shut-offs, and I turn them both off. Since the water is not "officially" turned off, I can easily turn it back on when necessary for the professional inspections done by prospective buyers.
Guys, when I leave my own home for 2 days, I turn my water off at the meter. It takes all of 1 minute and gives me peace of mind.
So, if you are an agent, sellers, or homeowners, do not leave your home in jeopardy when a small, quick job will prevent horrendous destruction. Turn off your water when you will be gone for more than just a day or two. Why take a chance and put your biggest investment at risk?
For more information about this topic, call John Elwell - REALTOR at CENTURY 21 Bill Nye Realty, Inc.: 813-783-4444 or e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org