Providing Open House Security Means Taking A Few Precautions
According to most real estate professionals, there are protocols to holding an open house. Contain the dog. Vacate the property. Even bake some cookies. While open houses can increase the likelihood that your home will sell, it can also increase the potential for theft — also a fact known by Realtors.
Here's a few tips on keeping your home and belongings safe whether you list with a real estate agent or try to sell your own property.
So how can you safeguard your place and your belongings? For one, you can place security cameras in plain sight, keeping potential thieves from making your home a target while helping you identify them should a burglary occur. A sign should be posted that the property is under surveillance. The most effective locations are at your home’s entry and other key spots, such as home offices and bedroom closets.
No one will advise you to remove everything of value, but you can hedge your bets nonetheless. While TVs can stay, other high-value items should be removed, including jewelry, expensive collectibles, and important papers. Don’t leave bank statements or any other financial information around, and make sure things like passports and house keys are not left out or are easy to find. Doing all this will only prepare you for your move anyway.
Thieves have been known to target open houses specifically for the purpose of finding prescription drugs, according to many real estate and law enforcement experts. Do a “museum sweep” (going room by room) of everywhere you keep medicines, scooping them up and throwing them into boxes or other safe places where quickly prying eyes can’t find them. Your agent should also inform visitors that smartphone photos are not permitted without the express permission of the owner, so would be thieves can’t go snapping photos to “case” the place.
While you can’t stop people from bringing their kids to open houses, make sure your Realtor informs visitors that children are not free to roam on their own. Even new home agents advise parents to hold children by the hand when walking through their model homes. Unsupervised kids will likely be touching stuff, especially if toys are accessible. Some say it’s wise to leave out an inexpensive toy or game specifically for the purpose of attracting and overly busy little hands.
Don’t forget to check your insurance coverage. While it may sound paranoid, going room to room and taking pictures can help with documentation should you need to provide it. Your agent would thank you. Done again after the open house, it will also reveal if anything has been disturbed.
It’s a great idea to have your agent arrive early to walk through the home and yard before the open house. After the showings begin, ask the Realtor to check periodically during the open house to make sure rooms that are expected to be empty really are vacant. It’s also not a bad idea (especially if your agent sets up a reception area as people enter) for the Realtor to have a helper who follows visitors around at a comfortable distance. All lights in the house should be on not just for showing purposes, but also for security. At the end of the open house, ask the agent to again walk through the entire home to check that rooms and closets are clear before locking up, shutting off the lights, and heading out.
While it’s customary for the owner to vacate during open houses and showings, no one will stop you from hanging around if you prefer to keep an eye on things. It’s best to stay away from the main entrance or where your real estate agent is set up. Agents agree that owners tend to be somewhat emotional when hearing potential buyers talk about their home, so this is not the best of scenarios from their standpoint.
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