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Protecting Yourself & Your Personal Possessions – What Not to Leave Out When Showing Your Home

A few weeks ago, I was showing a home to a client in a very nice neighborhood south of Raleigh.  We toured the main living area and then headed to the owner’s suite.  As I walked into the owner’s closet, there it was…camera equipment.  Cameras, lenses, filters…everything.  I’m a bit of a camera guy and I’m familiar with camera gear.  On the shelf, was literally, thousands of dollars of camera equipment that could easily be stolen, broken or damaged during a home showing.  All of it was laying out in the open.   

I have been an agent for several years and have never had an issue with a client stealing anything during a home showing or open house, but stuff can happen.  Several years ago, I was showing a home prior to Christmas and one of my clients’ children accidentally broke a Christmas ornament.  Luckily, the ornament was not valuable and was easily fixed, but accidents do happen.   

Here is how and what you should be doing to protect yourself and your belongings before showing your home.   

Guns, Other Firearms or Weapons 

This one seems pretty obvious, but it’s not.  If you have any guns or weapons they should be removed or locked in a gun safe prior to beginning any showings.  Obvious to some, but not to others. 

A few months ago, we listed a home several miles away from Raleigh.  The seller was an older person and had lived alone for many years.  The home was fairly separated from other homes.  We were reviewing some last-minute items before our first weekend of showings.  I asked if the client had any guns.  The client said that there were several guns in the house, including one under their pillow!!   

Anything that is valuable and readily accessible 

It goes without saying that anything of value should be put away before beginning showings. The following items are some of the more popular things to be stolen: 

  • Your money 
  • Jewelry 
  • Cell Phones 
  • Laptops 
  • Paintings 
  • Artwork 
  • Vases 
  • Nostalgia 
  • Any heirlooms 
  • Anything else easily obtainable. 

One other very important item to put away is your keys! Don’t leave extra keys on a hook or lying around. This is an open invitation for a burglar to come back when you’re not around and take what they want. 

Prescriptions and other drugs 

Before showing your home, be sure you put any prescription drugs away! The medicine cabinet or your nightstand will be the first place a thief will look. Theft of prescription drugs has become commonplace all around the country. 

How often do you think the discussion of theft takes place with a real estate agent and a homeowner? The answer is not nearly enough. In San Diego, drug theft became so commonplace a real estate group partnered with the Drug Enforcement Administration to help curb the problem. 

Documents with your personal information 

If identity thieves rifle through your garbage to find personal information like names, addresses, and social security numbers, they will certainly pick them up off your desk or dining room table. And if you think about it, you will see just how much more valuable information may be readily stolen from your home, including bank account numbers, credit cards, and other financial information. 

At the least, you should lock away all such documents in a secure location in your home. Ideally, you can remove them to another location during showings. 

If you own a safe, it might make sense to put them there during the open house. You may also hide them somewhere that visitors are not likely to go, such as a corner of the attic. 

Identifying information, like mail with your name on it 

Anonymity is a good thing when it comes to selling a home. You want the buyers focused on the house and what it has to offer, not your personal life. In today’s social media-filled world, it only takes a quick search using your name to find out all sorts of things about who you are, what you do, and how you feel about many different subjects. 

While there is a possibility that this information could endear you to a potential buyer, there is also a chance that it could turn the buyer from the home. It is better to avoid all of this by keeping your info out of a visitors’ reach. 

Signs of smoking 

You may be careful to keep cigarettes out of the home, only allow smoking outside, etc. But any sign of cigarettes will be an issue with certain buyers, who will assume that smoking happened in the house anyway. 

Any experienced realtor will tell you that smoking is not something you want to be associated with your home in any fashion. So put away your favorite ashtray, even if it’s only decorative, until after the home sells. 

Remove any and all signs that smoking takes place in the house! 

Portable heaters 

Are your windows drafty? Do some rooms not stay quite as warm as others? Is your home just notoriously cold because you only have the minimum amount of insulation? 

When you have many space heaters scattered throughout your home, this is precisely what the buyer will think. 

The exact opposite could be the reality. Maybe you are the type of person that is just always cold. However, having the space heaters sends a distinct message to a buyer who is always thinking the worst. 

Your pets 

It can be hard to imagine someone, not like a pet that you love so much, but it happens—a lot. Some people don’t like dogs; some don’t like cats; some don’t like pets in general. Even a reptile can be a problem. 

Again, you want the buyers focused on the home and not on the things they don’t like. It is a good idea for an open house to take your pet somewhere comfortable for the day. That way, there is no chance of an adverse reaction from a buyer that may otherwise make an offer on the home. 

Anything you don’t want to be stolen 

OK, visitors at your open house are not going to haul off your couch, television, or anything that would be obvious or difficult. But your jewelry, the cute pair of shoes you finally let yourself get, your favorite video games—anything that can be slipped into a pocket, put on, or thrown in a large purse can and may be taken. 

Everyone has smaller items that are important to them. Make sure you put such things in a place where visitors cannot get to them. Otherwise, you may come back to the home and find them gone. 

Other Things to Consider When Showing Your Home  

Think that you are ready for home showings?  Maybe!?  Before you accept that first showing request, here are a couple of things to consider to make your home more attractive to potential buyers: 

  1. Tidy Up A cluttered or messy home – Clear up any clutter or mess within the home. Needless to say, your home should be spotless for showings. 
  1. Playing music – there should be minimal distractions when selling a home. 
  1. Overbearing smells – your home should not have any odors, including distinct pet odors, smoking, and even air fresheners, which can be even worse than what you’re trying to hide. 
  1. An uncomfortable home temperature – if you’re selling a home in the winter, make sure the home is warm enough. Likewise, a hot home in the summer will be a turn-off as well. 
  1. A Dirty exterior – curb appeal is vital in selling a home. This means no cobwebs on the front door, mold on the siding, or leaves hanging out the gutters. 
  1. Overgrown landscaping – there are not many things that show neglect other than shrubbery growing out of control against a house. 

Not taking the time to have your home prepared for sale are some of the biggest mistakes in selling a house. 

Other Resources from Our Blog 

Why This Isn’t Your Typical Summer: Link

Patience is the Key to Buying a Home This Year: Link

Things to Avoid When Applying for a Mortgage: Link

About Log Pond Realty

Home is where your story begins. Home is where hopes and dreams are born, memories are made, and lives are lived. We would love the opportunity to assist you in writing your new story.

We service the Triangle region of North Carolina including Raleigh, Cary, Apex, Holly Springs, Morrisville, Fuquay-Varina, Durham, Chapel Hill, Wake Forest, and Garner.

Contact us  919.589.3576 |

Sources: Maximum Real Estate Exposure

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