Open houses remain a major source of potential bids when you're selling your house, but over the years, they've become associated with a few problems that can be avoided if you're careful. You and your real estate agent need to sit down and discuss what to do if you're about to hold an open house to ensure your property remains safe. With the right actions, you can thwart theft and potential post-sale legal problems.
Current advice for people about to hold open houses is to lock up or remove valuables, and you should do this; don't leave any in sight or in an easily accessible area. However, that can make your home look rather barren if there are no computers or DVD players around. Get fake ones. There are prop companies that make fake laptops and other items for home showings, and your real estate agent may know of some of these companies. If a person viewing your home is not very scrupulous and tries to take something, they won't get any use out of it.
Take Your Prescriptions With You
Remove your prescription medications from the home including any empty bottles or prescription labels. There is a growing problem of people attending open houses solely to look through medicine cabinets and steal what's in there. Even the labels alone are valuable because those thieves will try to call in a refill posing as you.
Lock Your Doors and Windows
Of course, many thieves know that homeowners and real estate agents are on to them and will hide valuables during the showing. So they come back later to try to break in and get the real valuables. Be sure your doors and windows are locked at all possible times. Open them only when you need to enter or exit the house (don't leave your door open for ventilation) or when you're in the room with the open window.
Stay Away if Your Agent Advises It
On the legal side, you may want to stay away from the showing if your agent advises it. Any answers you give about the neighborhood or the house could be misunderstood, leading to the buyer thinking you misrepresented something. That can lead to a possible lawsuit for you. Let your agent deal with answering questions instead.
After a showing is done, look over each room to see if anything looks damaged or is missing. Or worse, if someone left something illegal behind. Note that most open houses turn out fine and don't have all of these problems, but the problems are common enough that you have to take precautions. Your real estate agent is used to holding open house showings, so work out a great plan with him or her.
Talk with your real estate services specialists for more information to protect your home.