Should I shut off my utilities if I vacate the house?

As the owner, you are still responsible for what happens on and to the premises.

In wintertime, the owner is responsible for preventing damage from frozen pipes.  If the owner is unable or unwilling to pay for heat, then the house should be winterized.  If the owner is unable to pay for the cost of winterization, they should notify their mortgage lender immediately.  In many cases the mortgage lender will pay to winterize a house and add the cost to the principal balance. 

If the owner shuts off the utilities, it can cause problems when the buyer conducts their home inspection.  Many real estate contracts state that the seller will have the utilities on for inspections.  If the buyer has to activate the utilities, they may be reluctant to make an offer in the first place, or they may simply make a lower offer than what they originally intended. 

Also, if the electricity is shut off, that can wreak havoc with showings, particularly showings in the evening.  If the house is dark, buyers are likely to be less interested in the home.  Keeping the electricity on makes showings run much more smoothly.

When the buyer conducts their pre-settlement walk-through inspection of the house, they will feel more comfortable if the utilities are on.  If the electricity and water are on, that could prevent any last-minute doubts or late-stage negotiation.  If financially feasible, it is wise to keep the utilities on.  At the very least, keeping the electricity and the water on can aid in the smooth sale of the property.

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