Open houses can increase the likelihood that your home will sell but it can also increase the potential of theft. “With so many people touring your open house…the most prominent open house security issue during a house showing is thefts and robbery,” said reolink. “KABC reported that more than $150,000 worth of watches, jewelry, and electronics were stolen during an open house in Southern California.”
Use these tips to safeguard your place—and your stuff.
Get some cameras
Security cameras in plain sight can keep thieves from making your home a target and also help you identify them should a burglary occur. You obviously want to place them at any entrance to the home, as well as in other key spots like home offices and bedroom closets where thieves may be lurking.
While you can’t get rid of everything of value (TVs can stay), taking other high-value items out of the house when strangers are going to be inside is a good idea. That means removing jewelry, expensive collectibles, and important papers, or locking them in a safe. Don’t leave bank statements or any other financial information around, and make sure things like passports and house keys are not left out or easy to find. Reolink recommends an area less obvious than the dresser drawer. “Don’t hide anything in your top dresser drawer (a go-to spot for thieves).”
Watch the medicine
Doing a sweep of medicine cabinets is another important step. Thieves have been known to target open houses specifically for the purpose of finding prescription drugs.
Watch the kids
You can’t stop people from bringing their kids to open houses (nor would you want to if you’re in a family area), but that doesn’t mean you have to be thrilled about them traipsing through your house. Unsupervised kids will likely be touching stuff, especially if toys are accessible. Limiting their access to your kids’ favorite things can help, and so can leaving out a toy or game specifically for the purpose of attracting and wrangling little hands.
Make sure you’re insured
It’s a good idea to check with your insurance agent to make sure you’re covered should something happen in the home during an open house or showing. Going room to room and taking pictures can help with documentation should you need to provide it.
Set the expectation with your real estate agent
“Ask the realtor to walk through the home and yard before the open house, to ensure no one is there when the open house begins. Then, ask the realtor to check periodically during the open house to make sure rooms that are expected to be empty are really empty,” said Travelers. “When the realtor is taking prospective buyers through the house, suggest that he or she follow them and give directions from behind — for example, ‘The dining room is on your right,’ rather than having visitors follow. Additionally, turn on all lights throughout the house. This is better for marketing the home and provides another layer of safety. At the end of the open house, ask the realtor to again walk through the entire home and check that rooms and closets are clear before locking up and heading out.”
Insist on staying home
Real estate agents typically ask sellers to vacate the home during open houses and showings, but staying in the home—away from the main entrance and the room where your real estate agent is set up—could deter would-be thieves.