How to Keep Your Home and Belongings Safe While Your Home is on the Market

| October 1, 2013

Monster House

Selling your home can mean inviting a large number of strangers through your door, and it’s easy to get the feeling this is a perfect opportunity for criminals to rob you. You’re not wrong. Open house burglaries are incredibly common, not only because they give thieves open entry, but also because they can inspire the urge to steal in many everyday people who have free reign to wander through your rooms. According to the New York Times, burglary rings who target open houses can walk away with over $250,000 worth of goods in just a few months. Even if you stick to appointment viewing, there are precautions you must take to help ensure anybody who comes to your house is who they say they are. Putting your home on the market shouldn’t mean jeopardizing your safety.

1. Get Informed About Buyers

If you make the decision to hold an open house, it’s important to have a roster for visitors at the front door. Everyone who passes through should provide their name and telephone number as well as time of arrival and departure, so you can keep track of how many potential buyers are in your home at one time. But even with a roster, it can sometimes get uncomfortably crowded. You should keep an eye out for arriving and departing vehicles and anyone who may look suspicious, but keep in mind that open house burglars are hard to spot and may look very normal. The best idea is to hire a security guard for the event, such as an off duty police officer. Or just avoid an open house and stick to appointment-only viewing. This way, you can gather information about every perspective buyer before they show up at your door, and you’ll know who’s serious about making an offer. The thieves will probably stick to houses where they can get inside easily, so appointments are much safer.

House for sale

2. Lock Up Your Valuables

It’s not only jewelry that should go into a lockbox before you let strangers into your home. Thieves are on the lookout for antique china, leather jackets, electronic gadgets, prescription drugs, and most importantly, personal information. Most sellers don’t realize how dangerous it is to simply leave your mail lying on a table when someone is viewing your home, much less during an open house. Criminals could get access to your credit card statements or other important personal information they could use to steal money or worse, steal your identity. Also be wary of the decor you and your real estate agent have chosen to spruce up your home and make it more appealing to buyers. Thieves tend to case houses, and if they visit once and see the vases or other objects displayed throughout, they’ll be more likely to target it for a robbery. You should also be careful of what you say around perspective buyers. Never mention going out of town or give any kind of information about your schedule, as you could be informing thieves when the house is empty.

3. Vacant Properties

If you’re selling a home that’s already vacant, you need to protect it from burglary and vandalism just as much, if not more. Thieves can often attend an open house and leave a back door or window unlocked for them to return later. The only real defense against this, besides checking all your locks before you leave the property, is to have an adequate alarm system, which you can search for at Motion detector lights, security cameras, and door and window sensors will protect the home from thieves, and they’ll also prove a valuable perk to buyers looking to make an offer. When you can’t be around to constantly check up on the property, enlist the help of neighbors to collect mail and flyers and keep an eye out for anything suspicious. You can also ask your real estate agent to drive by, even when you’re not going to meet them for an appointment. Vacant homes for sale can sometimes be the target of fraudulent rental scams, so it’s important to have multiple eyes watching out for your valuable property.

Remember, if you do have items stolen from you, look on Craigslist, eBay, or other local sites. Almost always, thieves are out to sell your valuables, usually for much lower than the value. A house is one of the most valuable investments you’ll ever make, and when you’re looking to sell it, you’re expecting to get a pay off for the money and time you put into it. Don’t let thieves stand in the way of finding the right buyer for your property. And don’t put your valuables in jeopardy by allowing strangers into your home without the proper security measures. No matter how you approach the challenges of selling your house, there are plenty of ways not to be a victim.

Chelsea McCary is an avid blogger. You can follow her at @ChelseaMcCary.

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Category: Housing, Real Estate

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