Can your open house signal open season to thieves?

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If you’re like most Americans, your home is your biggest investment, and making the choice to sell it is a decision that you would probably weigh very carefully. It goes without saying that you’d want to earn the highest possible price for your property, and that would require your realtor to do a little marketing on your behalf. One of the most time-tested tools in your agent’s arsenal is the open house — a long-standing tradition of opening for-sale homes up to the public for viewing. While the Internet has curbed the need for open houses, seeing is still believing for some, and so the tradition continues.

But one unexpected side effect of open houses is the potential for theft or robbery. With your home wide open, a criminal element could be tempted to scope it out for break-in later, or even swipe a few items on the spot.  

So before you let every Tom, Dick and Harry roam through your most prized possession, follow these tips to help create an incident-free open house.

Hide Your Valuables

It can be tempting to want to stage your home with fancy collectibles, but with the high traffic that’s sure to accompany every open house, it’d be best to remove all visible high-value items from the home. This includes jewelry, collectibles, small electronics and other items that can be easily stolen. If you can’t remove your pocket-sized assets, invest in a heavy safe that you can use to stash them until your house is sold.  

Protect Your Identity

There are a few things you should do to help protect your identity during an open house:

Mail

Many of us leave mail, especially bills, out in plain sight around our homes. But if you’re hosting an open house, these items should be put away. If not, identity thieves could steal a great deal of personal information with just a few utility bills.

Cyber Security

Some crooks go to open houses specifically to try to gather sensitive data from the seller’s computer. In just a few seconds, a cyber criminal can gain access to your personal files using a number of methods, including hardware keyloggers. If you can, you should remove all computers from your house. If that’s not an option, at least turn all computers off, unplug them and cover them up.

Personal Items

Any items that reveal personal details about you, such as college diplomas hanging on the walls, should be packed away. You’d be surprised what other information a skilled identity thief could dig up with just your name and graduation details.

Document arriving vehicles

On the off chance that something is stolen from your home during an open house, you want to be able to make sure that you can give the police some sort of lead. Make sure to document the license plate, make, model and color of all vehicles that arrive at your open house.

Alternatively, you can employ technology to do the work for you. A strategically positioned exterior security camera can record the comings and goings of all potential buyers, leaving you free to focus on getting your home sold.

Hire a trustworthy agent

A good realtor is your first line of defense against theft or other criminal activity in your for-sale home. You need to be able to trust them completely, so be sure to thoroughly vet all potential candidates.

By following these tips, you can help ensure that your open house runs smoothly and that nothing is out of place after prospective buyers leave.

Sources

http://www.har.com/blog_38625_open-house-safety-preventing-identity-theft

http://www.trulia.com/blog/protect-belongings-open-house/

http://www.zillow.com/blog/protect-your-home-151164/

http://www.maxrealestateexposure.com/how-to-avoid-getting-robbed-from-an-open-house/

http://realestate.aol.com/blog/2011/02/03/open-houses-good-way-to-get-robbed/

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