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Byline: Derek Abbott

Q Help!

We need to move and don't really want to wait till the autumn - but we're going to be away for much of the summer.

A The first thing to say is "don't panic!" Even in high summer (if you can call it that) there are buyers about; maybe not as many as in the autumn, but they are just as keen to buy. Indeed, for people like teachers, this is precisely the time that they will be actively house-hunting.

And don't worry about it interfering with your own holiday plans, either. When it comes to showing prospective buyers around, many estate agents actually prefer it if the seller is absent, since it allows them to concentrate on the job in hand. So, just give your agents the keys and a contact number, and let them deal with viewings and so forth while you're away.

Security is really the big issue here. Remember, 4 out of 5 burglaries take place when properties are empty - so having an estate agent visiting your property regularly is actually a big plus. Not only does it mean you're home will get a regular airing, but it's also good to have someone dropping by now and then, just to keep an eye on the place.

In addition, of course, there are all sorts of other measures you can take - most of which are really just common sense.

For example: * Avoid discussing your holiday or business trip in public, and don't put your home address on your luggage.

As well as the agent's visits, try to enlist a friend or neighbour to keep your house looking lived-in: for example, by opening and closing curtains, keeping the hallway clear of junk mail, etc (particularly important if your front door is glazed) - even parking their car in your driveway from time to time. Also, make sure they too have contact details for you.

Put one or two lights in different rooms on timer switches, and do the same with a radio (speech programmes rather than music).

Cancel any milk or newspaper deliveries.

If you are going to be away for a long period, arrange for someone to keep the garden looking neat and cared-for.

And finally... Try not to leave valuable items visible through the windows.
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Birmingham Mail (England)
Date:Jul 25, 2012
Words:382
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