You’ve hit a new milestone in your homeownership journey and decided to sell your home. As you prepare for the overwhelming process, it’s easy to overlook a few common safety precautions that could reduce a lot of risks and dangers that you may not think about when you list your home. Here are our top reminders.
Hide Mail, Valuables and Other Personal Information
Unfortunately, leaving mail out in the open could increase your chances of identity theft and fraud. It doesn’t take long for someone touring your home to snap a picture of an envelope or jot down a few numbers that could be your Social Security Number (SSN). Make sure you store all personal documents, credit cards and bank statements in a safe place, lock your computer and other mobile devices to prevent easy access or a glimpse at any documents or accounts that may be on your screen.
And don’t assume that everyone has the best of intentions. Store away any cash, jewelry or valuables that are easy grabs. It’s best to put them in a safe or lockbox out of sight. It’s also a good idea to put away photos of you and your family for your privacy and safety.
Keep Doors and Windows Locked
After your realtor shows the house, they should always make sure the door is locked. Leaving doors or windows unlocked gives lurking thieves easy access when they know a home is vacant. Many may think it’s not a big deal if the home is empty of valuables, but you still don’t want to run the risk of property damage.
If you decide to use a lockbox to store the key for buyers and their realtors to enter themselves, make sure you stop by after the listing is over to make sure doors are locked. Another easy way to ensure your home is locked is to use a smart lock. With a smart lock, you can check the status, lock and unlock your door using your smartphone. Some also let you assign personal codes for each guest and disable access after they leave. You’ll also have a history of events to see when your door was locked and unlocked. Most smart locks are easy to self-install for better control of your home during the selling process.
Make Sure Your Home is Safe & Clutter-Free
If you’re still living in your home while selling it, make sure it’s kept tidy for potential buyers and their realtors. Don’t leave cords, wires and other hazards out for, because they could cause trips, falls and injuries. You should also hide away any dangerous items such as knives, lighters and other hazards that aren’t kid-friendly.
Make sure furniture is sturdily placed and gives guests plenty of room to move around. You should also store away children’s or pets’ toys that are easy to stumble on. Put away any clutter that can be found on dressers, countertops and tables, too. Ideally, the home should look like the listing’s photos you posted to give buyers a vision of the home for themselves.
At this time, the COVID-19 (Coronavirus) pandemic is encouraging buyers to take health and safety measures a lot more seriously. When potential buyers visit your home it may be a good idea to ask them to wear a mask and gloves to help slow the spread of the virus. You should also ask visitors to wash their hands or other health precautions – especially if you’re still living in the home while it’s on the market. Virtual listing showings are becoming more popular to help with social distancing and the risk of being in enclosed spaces.
Only Open the Door for Appointments
Some sellers decide to skip the idea of an open house to prevent the risk of too many potential buyers visiting their homes at once and opt for individual appointments instead. If your home is on the market and you get an unexpected visitor at your home, don’t open the door. Add a note to your online listing that appointments are required so you’ll know when you should expect someone.
Scheduled appointments give you time to prepare and always keep you aware of when to expect a guest instead of opening the door for someone that could be a criminal or visiting your home without the best intentions. If a visitor stops by for a tour without warning ask them to schedule an appointment, especially if they show up at night.
Also, during appointments, make sure someone is home with you during the property showing for your safety. It’s also not a bad idea to add security cameras as an extra precaution when potential buyers visit.
Justin Havre added how important it is to be on the same page with your realtor when it comes to appointments and showing your home.
“I think one of the more underrated safety tips for sellers is to communicate with their agent and iron out exactly what the procedure will be when showing the home to prospective buyers. This can include how much advance notice the sellers would have to get ready or leave the home if there will be a lockbox for other agents to use, and what records will be kept of showings,” he said.
“Communication will help avoid any blunders where things are happening that the sellers are not aware of, and can help them prepare for any of the risks associated with others entering their home,” Havre added.
Make Your Home Look Occupied
If you’ve moved and your home is still on the market, make it look occupied. Install smart lights for automated scheduling to turn them on and off, or control them using your phone. You can also keep a car parked in your driveway or garage and move it a few times a week. Some homeowners also ask their realtor to regularly stop by and keep an eye on their home. But, for the best protection, consider keeping your home security system installed and have it professionally monitored by your security provider. With professionally monitored security, you’ll get an alert when your system’s sensors are triggered and emergency responders will be sent to your home on your behalf.
There are a lot of safety measures to keep in mind, but these reminders will help you get started with a safe selling experience. For more safety tips and precautions when selling your home it’s best to speak to your trusted real estate agent. They’ll be able to share their expertise and tips based on their past listings and industry knowledge. Remember to keep these and other personal safety measures in mind as you plan to put your home sweet home on the market for the next lucky buyer.