You've de-cluttered, cleaned every inch of your home, staged furniture and home decor - all of the things any home seller should do when listing their home. But as the calls for showings come in, open houses are scheduled, and strangers begin to do walk-throughs of your home, you need to take preventative measures as a seller to protect your home from theft and liability lawsuits.
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Stow Away Valuables
It's common sense to keep jewelry, small electronics and other valuable items in a safe place before a showing or open house, but there are still homeowners who skip over this essential home security measure. Prospective homebuyers may open drawers, medicine cabinets, etc. so if you don't have a safety deposit box, take valuables with you when you leave the house or store them at a relative's for safekeeping.
Other items to stow away include blank checks, prescription medications, and important documents like tax returns, birth certificates, and anything with your Social Security number on it.
Close Your Computer
Most homeowners store sensitive or personal information on laptops. Don't make yourself vulnerable by leaving your computer open. Anyone who is looking is likely to find something private with a few taps on the keyboard.
Take Steps to Ensure the Safety of Potential Buyers
If someone gets hurt while viewing your home, you can be held liable. While you may have grown accustomed to the poorly lit steps on your deck or a loose floorboard, your homebuyers could be taken by surprise. Take these preventative measures to ensure the safety of those who will be walking through your home:
- Remove clutter from hallways and stairways
- Make sure your home is properly lit, inside and out, especially around stairs
- Secure rugs with slip-resistant padding
- Remove ice and snow from walkways and steps in the winter time
- Repair any loose or uneven flooring
Enlist Your Neighbors
If you have a trustworthy relationship with a neighbor, ask for help in making sure your home is secured when you're not around, especially if you've already moved out or don't return directly after a showing.
Ask your neighbor to double-check that all doors are locked and all appliances and interior lights are shut off after a showing, and to keep an eye out for any unwanted visitors who may know the house is vacant.
Board the Family Pet
The best bet for pet-owners having their house shown is to board the pet while the home is on the market or at least take it with you when you leave the home. Not only will this make your home more appealing to non-animal loving homebuyers but will also eliminate the liability of your dog biting any home viewers.
If removing your pet from the home isn't a possibility, secure a dog crate or cage that can safely contain your animal during a showing.
Maintain Your Home Security System
If you're moving out before your house sells, don't be tempted to cancel your security system service. Homes on the market are attractive to burglars because of the likelihood that no one is home. An already placed alarm system will also appeal to potential buyers.
If you have specific concerns about your property while it's on the market, communicate these to your real estate agent. Your home is likely your largest investment, so it's important to protect it and your own finances while you're trying to sell.
Upsizing or downsizing with your next home purchase? Download our free Upsizing/Downsizing Guide, a great reference for repeat homebuyers!