My home is listed for sale and I’m working with my salesperson to schedule some open houses over the holidays. With so many gifts in my home, I’m concerned about possible theft. Is there something I can do to safeguard my holiday shopping?

Thank you for your question. With Black Friday and Cyber Monday also in swing, your question is very timely.

A lot of effort goes into making a property look good for an open house, but security is just as important. You are wise to keep it top of mind. There are a few steps you can take to help remove the temptation for would-be thieves.

Before the open house, have a conversation with your registered real estate representative about the potential risks. They are aware of the importance of personal and property safety and will likely be able to recommend additional measures that can be put in place during your open houses.

It is important to make security a part of the open house protocol. Doing so can reduce the potential for thieves to target your home. Speak with your salesperson about how they will log who enters your home during showings and open houses. Some salespeople may require visitors to show a driver’s licence, or other form of photo identification, before touring your home. This sends a clear message that you’re keeping track of who enters the premises. Remember, it is your home, so you make the final decision regarding the steps to be followed to keep it secure.

Thieves know to look in closets and drawers, so valuable items should be placed somewhere secure, like a safe. If possible, ask a trusted neighbour, friend or family member to store your valuable parcels during your open house.

It is not only gifts and belongings that are at risk of being stolen. It is important to secure your personal information too, from bank statements and credit card receipts to passports and confidential documents. Keeping these items out of sight is a good practice.

Types of items typically at risk of theft:

    • Portable electronics, including phones, tablets, laptops and portable speakers
    • Jewellery and other valuable accessories like watches
    • Family heirlooms, including small pieces of artwork
    • Passports, bills and documents with personal information

As security becomes a growing concern, there are other tools available to help safeguard our homes. For example, there are many kinds of in-home video surveillance devices and alarm systems that you can use to improve security.

Most people visiting open houses are there to find a home and are not interested in stealing any of the belongings in it, but it is best to be prepared for people with more sinister motives.

I wish you a success with your open houses and a very happy holiday season.

If you have a question for Joe about the home buying or selling process, please email

Joseph Richer is Registrar of the Real Estate Council of Ontario (RECO). He is in charge of the administration and enforcement of all rules that govern real estate professionals in Ontario. You can find more tips at, follow on Twitter @RECOhelps or on YouTube at

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