Selling Your Home? 9 Tips to Avoid Theft During Open Houses

Holding an open house is a necessity nowadays. But an open house exposes you to risks, including potential theft of your valuables. Whether your home is located in a high crime area or in a community where break-ins never occur, make sure your open house is not an open door invitation to would-be thieves. The key is to safeguard your home against two types of visitors: 1) attendees who walk around your home and help themselves to small items they can smuggle out in their tote bag, and 2) potential thieves who case the rooms so they know if your home is worth breaking into later. Follow these tips to deter both of these types of criminals:

Use staging to get organized.

Not only does staging your home make it look appealing to potential buyers, but it also gives you a chance to lock-up valuables. Don’t use valuable furnishings or heirlooms to stage, though. Instead, store expensive accessories, artwork, appliances, electronics, jewelry, handheld devices and valuable collectibles in an offsite storage location.  Remove prescriptions from your medicine cabinets. Take extra garage door remote devices with you.

Store and lock or remove personal information that shows social security numbers, such as tax forms or passports. Don’t forget bank statements, financial account information or your checkbook.

Focus surveillance cameras on hiding places for valuables.

If you don’t have time to store valuables at a site away from your home, make sure video cameras are trained on the areas where you store these items. This is not the time to hide the cameras–instead, make it obvious those cameras are working and recording anyone who attempts to steal these things.

Use listing photos wisely.

Avoid displaying valuables or high end furnishings in open house announcements and listing photos. This includes entertainment equipment, a garage full of sporting goods and tools or your home office with all of its high tech gear and personal documents.

Use monitoring signage.

Strategically place signs indicating you have an alarm system in place. Call Froula Alarm to obtain signs for properties we monitor.

Insist on registration.

Require all open house guests to sign in before they enter your home. Ask for their name and contact information.

Keep a head count.

Ask your agent to keep track of how many people come and how many leave to make sure no one hides in your home in order to rob the place after everyone leaves.

Ask for assistants.

Ask your realtor to bring help to keep an eye on each floor of your home or to station assistants in areas of the home that are far from the main rooms. Station assistants near doors other than the main entrance.

Arm the alarm immediately after the open house ends.

When the open house is finished, ask your realtor to arm the alarm before leaving. This could help deter burglars from returning to the home later and breaking in. Make sure all sliding glass doors, side entrances and windows are securely locked.

Use your smartphone.

Once you know the realtor has locked up your home and turned on the alarm, use your smartphone to turn on some lights and the TV or stereo. This makes it look like someone’s in the home, another way to deter would-be thieves.