Selling your home is an exercise in trust, and it can be stressful to have strangers walking through your home. There are a few safeguards to keep in mind to protect your privacy while allowing potential buyers access to their future dream home.
De-personalize your house
Not all of the people who attend open houses are interested in buying your home. (You know a couple of the neighbours from down the street will check out your home if you have just renovated.) Criminals regularly scope out potential targets by casually touring an open house.
Realtors will tell clients to pack away family photos, memorabilia, religious items and collectables so that potential buyers can picture the home with their things in it. There’s another good reason for it—things like calendars show visitors when you will be home or away from home. Framed degrees can indicate the work you do that could influence how a potential buyer approaches an offer. A child’s school schedule or calendar tells people where your child goes to school, which could be used against you.
Don’t forget about Fluffy and Fido-take down their photos, tidy their toys and bring them with you. If you cannot bring them with you, put them in a secluded location with their favourite toys, food, water and bedding.
If your pets have fangs, scales, or are the stuff of nightmares, find a temporary home for them, or relocate them out of main traffic areas (do not leave them in the kitchen.) You don’t want your pets to be stressed by strangers in their home, you don’t want your pets to be stolen, and you don’t want to lose an opportunity because the perfect buyer is terrified of snakes and ran out screaming.
Hide personal information
Assume that people going through your home will be opening drawers, checking closet space and poking in cupboards. While most people will stick with the furniture that comes with the house, such as kitchen or bathroom cabinets, not everyone will resist the urge.
Ensure you have all of your personal information, chequebooks, bills and other private information in a safe, locked location. Move any prescription medication and jewellery to somewhere that locks and isn’t portable. Do a sweep before you leave.
Besides running the risk of having your identity stolen, things like divorce papers, collections notices or overdue bills or market analysis documents could give a potential buyer insight into why you need to sell and how hard to negotiate.
Lock up the electronics
There’s a wealth of information on our mobile devices, including laptops, tablets and smartphones. Not only are they easy to slip into a bag, for most of us, the devices also contain all the details of our daily lives.
Turn off and password-protect things like desktop computers and lock up or remove smaller mobile devices. If your device has the option, turn on the device location app, so if it does go missing, you have a place to start.
Enlist a friend
Let’s be realistic: your realtor will be talking about the benefits of your home to potential buyers and won’t have time to keep an eye on everyone. If you have a large property, speak with your realtor about hiring security for the event.
Or, you could enlist the help of friends, family or trusted neighbours to keep an eye on things for you. They can mingle with the people coming through the house and safeguard your possessions while you are away.
Selling your home is stressful enough without being the victim of identity theft or burglary. Follow these steps, fluff those pillows, and happy selling!
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