We had a number of open houses and showings during the year and a half that our home was on the market. And most of those open houses resulted in very little if any traffic through our home by potential buyers. According to a recent MSN Money article, “In the experience of Seattle broker Ray Akers, though, open houses are “a waste of time.”
He went on to say, “”I don’t think it’s wise to have an open house in an occupied house,” Akers says, talking by phone. He recalls staffing an open house once when a couple distracted him while, he later learned, their associate rifled through drawers in another room. Fortunately, the home was vacant.”
I didn’t need an online article to tell me this though, as I can see the potential issues involved with strangers coming into my home, supervised only by a real estate agent or a representative of that agent. Therefore, when we had our home on the market, we took certain steps to protect ourselves, our possessions, and those visiting our home.
It’s not like we’re those people you hear about in the news who hide $25,000 rings in old watch boxes and then sell them accidentally in a garage sale. We don’t have lots of high-value items, but we do have a few family heirlooms that carry with them a little value and that have intrinsic value as well. However, the great things about small rings and jewelry is that they are easy to take along when we’re out of the house, and they’re even easier to hide or put in the safe deposit box, which we did whenever we were opening our home to strangers.
Removing obstacles or potential “trip and fall” hazards
But it’s not just all about hiding our valuables when showing our home to prospective buyers, but ensuring that our guests — whether we know them personally or not — are safe in our home. I tended to do things like roll up floor rugs that might present tripping hazards, close the door to the basement to ensure a small child wouldn’t unwittingly fall down the stairs, utilize outlet plugs on child-reachable outlets, pick up toys, and look for any other items that might present “trip and fall” hazards to our guests. I also ensured that our liability coverage on our home was up to par and available in the amounts necessary to handle a variety of potential accidents.
Removing or locking up alcohol and firearms
You just never know who is coming into your house during showings and open houses. There could be small children — or maybe more worrisome yet, teens — who are on the warpath. With parents looking at the house, they could be left to their own devices, peeking into cabinets, getting behind the wet bar or digging around in closets. Having them find that pack of cigarettes, bottle of booze, or god forbid a firearm could have them getting into more trouble than anyone would like. Therefore, keeping such items locked up or at least hidden safely away could help keep those visitors to your home safe and away from temptation.
An identity can be more valuable than any valuable left behind in a home. Unsecured documents could be swiped by someone entering your home, and the worst part is that you might not even find out for days, weeks or even months. Tax documents, utility or credit card bills, bank statements, paystubs, and similar or related documents either left out or in a desk or file cabinet could we taken and used against you by identity thieves.
While you might not be able to take a file cabinet of paperwork along with you when you leave the house, we found that a small file box with our most important documents could be taken along with us or locked securely away or hidden. Meanwhile, our most important paperwork — Social Security cards, passports, birth certificates, and the likes — was placed in our safe deposit box at the bank.
In these ways, we managed to open our home to strangers while at the same time protect not only them but ourselves and our possessions as well.
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The author is not a licensed financial or real estate professional. The information provided in this article is for informational purposes only and does not constitute advice of any kind. Any action taken by the reader due to the information provided in this article is solely at the reader’s discretion.