1. Stow away valuables. This includes everything from mail left on your kitchen counter (which may contain personal information and bank statements) to such items as jewelry, artwork, cellphones, and gaming systems. Real estate agents can’t protect valuables and likely won’t be following prospective buyers all around the house, especially during a busy open house. You should walk through your house before a showing or open house to make sure everything of value is out of sight.
2. Remove or lock up prescription medications prior to showings. Similar to removing valuables prior to a showing or open house, prescription drugs are another key item to protect.
3. Remove family photos for your safety. Many real estate agents advise sellers to remove family photos as part of the staging process, but removing photos can also help protect your family’s privacy.
4. Make your house safe for buyers and agents. Turn on the lights prior to showings — whether it’s daytime or evening — so that agents and buyers can move safely through the home. It’s important to remove obvious weapons (like guns) before showings, but also not-so-obvious weapons. For example, many homeowners may have a block of knives on their kitchen counter which should be removed for everyone’s safety.
5. Keep the house locked and consider extra security systems. Doors need to be kept locked at all times. Consider adding deadbolt locks, securing sliding glass doors with bars and extra locks, installing motion-sensor lights for outdoor areas, and check that all windows are locked securely. Look into installing a wireless security system, maybe one that alerts you if motion is detected.
6. Beware of unexpected visitors. When your house is for sale, should you get unexpected visitors at your front door and you weren’t expecting any showings, don’t let them in. This is not the proper procedure for showings. Only real estate professionals who have made an appointment and use the lockbox should gain access to your home.