How to Protect Your Home When It’s On The Market
When your home goes on the market, it could be exposed to more than just potential buyers. Your home could be the target of scams, theft, insurance claims, and other issues, especially if you and your realtor are planning to hold a large open house. Taking certain precautions with your valuables and your home can protect you and your family from these common threats and ensure your selling experience goes as smoothly as possible.
Homes on the market are common targets for petty theft. If you’ve got valuables in your home, you’re putting yourself at risk, especially if you’re planning on holding an open house or two. Even common targets for theft can easily fall off your radar if you’re busy getting your house ready.
Most would-be thieves look for easy targets like jewelry, but other valuables like collectibles, prescription medications, and even blank checks are all easy for someone to lift during a busy open house. Make sure to sweep your home for any of these common targets before the showing begins. If possible, store any valuables in a locked safe.
When you’re showing your home, it’s important to keep track of the number of people that are entering and exiting. Locking all exterior doors except the front entrance helps to manage the flow of people coming in and out of your home.
Some unscrupulous visitors might quietly unlock a window or door while they’re on a tour of the house, so make sure all entrances and windows are triple-checked after the showing is over. Vacant homes are major targets for break-ins. If you’re already living elsewhere while your home is on the market, it’s strongly recommended that you upgrade the locks on your doors.
Most buyers will want to take some of your appliances for a spin while they’re touring the property. However, this leaves you vulnerable to property damage if a burner or sink is left on. If you won’t be around, be sure to have your real estate agent or a trusted neighbor give your home a thorough check after a showing to avoid costly damage from fire or flooding.
Identity theft can be just as devastating as a physical theft. Your personal documents with identifying information, bank account numbers, or any other kinds of sensitive data are easy targets during an open house. Any personal documents should be taken with you, rather than stored in a drawer. If you have to leave them behind, an immovable, lockable filing cabinet is the best option to make sure your personal information is kept secure.
Similarly, photos can help with staging a lived-in home for prospective buyers, but you may not want your family members to be so easily recognized. Consider swapping out photos of your family before a showing to protect your identities.
While a potential buyer is visiting your home, you’re liable for any bodily injury caused to them by a slip or fall. You might even be the target of an insurance scam if a visitor stages an injury. An unfortunate accident can become a major liability, so it’s best to avoid this potential scenario altogether.
Install slip-proof mats under every carpet in your home, and check for any loose floorboards that might cause someone to trip. Keep your home completely free of clutter, especially in stairwells. Keep all indoor and outdoor spaces well lit, and make sure any snow or ice is completely removed from walkways and front steps before the showing begins.
Many potential issues for homes on the open market aren’t immediately obvious. This checklist can help you identify less common issues to be aware of when you’re showing your home:
- Secure All Remotes and Key Fobs: A spare car key or a remote to your garage door is easy to steal and can potentially allow access to your home or vehicle. Bring these with you or store them in a safe place before the showing begins.
- Consider a Home Security System: When your home is on the market, it’s a magnet for larceny. Consider upgrading your home’s security system to deter theft and keep your valuables safe if there’s a break-in.
- Secure Any Dangerous Weapons: Large knives and guns can cause serious bodily harm. Take these items out of the house to avoid the issue altogether.
- Keep Your Pets Secure: If you can’t take your dog or cat with you, consider securing them in a crate so they won’t get lost or injure any visitors.
While entrusting your home to complete strangers can seem like a leap of faith, these tips can help you prevent any potential issues and limit your chance of damage or theft. Be sure to communicate any concerns to your real estate agent so they’re aware of these issues when showing your home without you.
How have you kept your home safe when it’s on the market? Add your tips in the comments below!