Some of my clients were puzzled by signs on homes which proclaimed this house has been winterized. The idea of winter and Houston causes doubt. In Houston, we have eight months of summer and four months of indecision. Many clients seem to think a scam is afoot, but this is just a term that people use in the inspection industry.
Winterizing would seem to refer to preparing your house for winter, and indeed the term is used for that meaning. However, inspectors around the country have appropriated the term to mean that the home is unoccupied and therefore it should be made ready to be vacant. Water, gas, and (sometimes) electricity are shut off. Exterior windows and doors are secured, and the security system is disabled. Then an inspector will check to see that non of the drains have a stopper in place to prevent overflow if the water is turned back on. The inspector at this point is walking through the house to see that everything is in good shape, and that there are no immediate issues.
This process of winterizing is done to homes that have been foreclosed, since the lender will not want anything to happen to the house. For a buyer, you should not worry about a home having been winterized, but you should be concerned that your own inspector will not be able to fully investigate a home if the utilities are off. One home that I inspected last month was in this state, and there was a good reason for the water not to be in use. The pipe for a hose bib (exterior faucet) was busted. If you are buying a winterized home, ask your inspector as to how he will handle this. I do a visual inspection of the components, and then I come back out once the utilities are working to finish my inspection, and this is done at my usual fee. Another inspector may charge a re-inspection fee, or he may give a discount for the original inspection. There is no set practice as to what will be done, so you need to ask.