Protecting your valuables during an open house
Just how comfortable would you feel opening your home to a complete stranger? Imagine walking away, knowing that someone you’ve never met is wandering from room to room, eyeing up and down the one place you feel most safe.
Well it does happen – just about every weekend, in fact. A traditional open house is a very popular tool for home sellers. And what buyer wouldn’t want to inspect a home closely before making the biggest purchase in their life? But it’s up to you – the owner – to protect your valuables when it comes time to schedule your open house.
Police will tell you that thefts from open houses do happen. In 2010, Durham region police recovered property worth half a million dollars after a couple from Oshawa was charged with stealing during open houses.
The good news is a few simple steps can go a long way to protecting your privacy, security and belongings during an open house. The first step is to work with your salesperson to make sure they are doing everything to protect your place. Will they limit the number of people allowed into the home during each showing? Will they ask each visitor to show identification and complete a registration form? Will potential buyers be escorted during their visit to your home? Ask as many questions as needed to make sure you understand and are comfortable with what is planned and what you need to do to prepare.. Other tips include:
- Remove or secure valuable items that are small and easy to steal such as jewelry and portable electronics
- Keep your bills, credit card receipts, and bank statements out of view.
- Remove medications from all rooms in the home including your medicine cabinet.
- Take inventory – and possibly photos – ahead of time so you know quickly if anything is missing.
It’s important to take advantage of all the resources available – including your registered real estate professional – who can offer you tips and advice on how to plan for an open house. Also visit the Real Estate Council of Ontario’s (RECO) website at www.reco.on.ca. As the regulator responsible for protecting consumers in real estate transactions, RECO is a valuable resource for any home buyer and seller, including a consumer newsletter and a bulletin dedicated to preparing for an open house.