If your former home hasn't sold, your vacant property could fall victim to the elements, system failure, vandalism, or burglary. Take steps to lessen the risk for potentially costly issues.
1) Maintain the exterior. Don't let your property look neglected. Make arrangements to have your lawn mowed, or in winter, your driveway shoveled. Trim branches that could fall and damage your roof during a storm and clean out clogged gutters to avoid water damage. Check that exterior lights are working.
2) Take precautions with the interior. Install working on exterior doors, and make sure all windows are securely locked. Set your thermostat at a constant temperature (high enough in winter to prevent freezing) and replace the thermostat's battery. Seal up pet doors to keep out pests, animals, and other potential intruders.
3) Enhance the vacant property's security. Add motion-sensor lights and entry alarms. Keep bushes trimmed to remove potential hiding places for burglars. Close the curtains and blinds to prevent people from seeing in. Use timers for lights and consider adding a unit that simulates a flickering TV to deter criminals.
4) Round up support. Enlist neighbors or friends for additional vacant property protection. Ask them to alert you of any concerns and occasionally park in the driveway to help make your home seem occupied. Notify the police and the fire department that the house will be vacant and leave your phone number with them.
5) Protect your investment. Be aware that if your home is vacant for a month or more, your homeowner’s insurance may not cover losses that occur while it's vacant. You may need to add a vacancy endorsement to your policy. Talk with your homeowner’s insurance agent about your options.