Selling a home? Beware of strangers who may want what you're not selling.

By
Home Stager with Home Star Staging

The recent North Texas local news report about the crook who is posing as a home buyer but has stolen 10's of thousands of dollars worth of merchandise from local home sellers has prompted me to revisit a subject I wrote about a while back on this very issue.  This subject is unfortunately never going to go away and I believe we all need to be much more aware of our surroundings when selling a home in today's real estate market.

Whether it's out of financial desperation, addiction or plain old greed and thievery, there are unfortunately many out there who look at homes for sale as an open door to a shopping spree of sorts. 

As a North Texas Professional Home Stager I caution each of my clients on this subject at the end of our home staging consultation, or even during if I spy items of interest to the less savory of individuals who may be "previewing" their home.  I leave the list with my home selling clients and many have commented that they "hadn't even thought of this before". 

Here is a list of items you may want to consider moving, hiding or storing off site to a Rx medssafe location when selling a home

  • Prescription Medications - get them out of the usual places, Keeping them in a Ziploc and having them handy to take with you is a good idea.
  • Firearms and weaponry - this may plant a seed for someone casing the joint to know where you keep your weaponry and makes you highly vulnerable should they decide to come back.
  • Personal information - bills, credit cards, bank statements, etc. Keep these securely out of site and know where they are. In our hurry to leave for a showing, it's easy to leave this type of information in plain site
  • Cash
  • Jewelry and freestanding jewelry boxes
  • Keys - Many have an extra set of house or car keys hanging by the door or laying on a table. Someone can easily take the keys and help themself later (Thank you Michelle Minch for this important addition to the list)

This is not to scare you but prepare you.  Most prospective home buyers are actually in the market to buy a home.  Just don't leave yourself and your family vulnerable to theft.

Sell your home safely and successfully!

 *****************************************************************************

Are you selling a home in Plano, Murphy, Allen, Frisco, McKinney, Richardson or Dallas, TX? Do you need help and  expert advice on preparing a home for sale ? 

Home Star Staging is a qualified, insured home staging company and we are always here for you North Texas!

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Home Staging Dallas - Karen Otto

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Rainer
440,823
Sally Weatherley
EXIT STAGE RIGHT - Vancouver, BC
Vancouver Home Staging, Home Stager Vancouver, B.C

Karen, bills, credit cards, bank statements - this is a great point - identity theft is on the rise.  Hiding passports, social insurance numbers, etc. is extremely important these days - identity theft can dog you for years and years. 

May 13, 2010 03:04 AM #8
Ambassador
1,377,578
Loreena and Michael Yeo
3:16 team REALTY ~ Locally-owned Prosper TX Real Estate Co. - Prosper, TX
Real Estate Agents

Karen - this brings back a good idea about Open Houses. I'm not really sure if I like them for this reason also. I want an agent who you would think screened the client. Rather than to let strangers walk into houses.

May 13, 2010 03:06 AM #9
Rainmaker
305,778
Karen Otto
Home Star Staging - Plano, TX
Plano Home Staging, Dallas Home Staging, www.homes

Great idea Charita!

We can get complacent and you're right Dan, we need continual reminders.

You bet Nancy

Yes passports, SSN's great adds Sally!

Just the other week at an open house (I wrote a blog about it) I was in some unsavory people toting beer cans were lingering too long in a master bathroom Loreena... you're right to be cautious.

May 13, 2010 03:46 AM #10
Rainmaker
444,306
Melissa Marro
Keller Williams First Coast Realty - The Marro Team - Orange Park, FL
Jacksonville Real Estate and Home Staging

You are right!  I also try to remind them about the knife block in the kitchen as a possible weapon against the Realtor, who is frequently a woman showing properties alone. 

They almost never think of any of this - though sometimes their agent will also have told them.  (Of course most have no idea how seldom that actually happens.)

May 13, 2010 04:16 AM #11
Rainmaker
305,778
Karen Otto
Home Star Staging - Plano, TX
Plano Home Staging, Dallas Home Staging, www.homes

The knife blocks are something I include too Melissa.  There was a Realtor in McKinney,TX who was killed by a man a few years ago while working in a model home by a knife he brought in. I believe he stole her Rolex watch. So it's also important not to even wear your finest jewlery when showing homes. Crimes of opportunity happen at random. 

May 13, 2010 04:21 AM #12
Rainer
51,417
Julie Davis, Amy Blank - Rediscovered Interiors, LLC
Rediscovered Interiors, LLC - Andover, MN

Such good things to remind everyone to talk about.  We cover all these things in our consults, even the knife block.  We ALWAYS get the "Really?"....but surprisingly, we are the first ones to tell them these things.  One client we had told us that with her previous Realtor, they had an open house, and during that open house someone went to the basement, in a bedroom, on a top shelf in a safe, stole some credit cards she was keeping there.  So, even with good intentions, lock the safes!  Don't leave them unlocked so it is easy for you to get in and out of.  I'm guilty of the same thing, but when your selling your home and showings come up fast, running to lock your safe up may not be top on your list if your not doing it already.  As we always tell our clients, just like when you test drive a car, realtors don't always walk with everyone....they want you to try it out, by yourself.

Thanks for sharing!

Julie

May 13, 2010 04:41 AM #13
Ambassador
4,167,344
Kathy Streib
Room Service Home Staging - Delray Beach, FL
Home Stager - Palm Beach County,FL -561-914-6224

Karen- it's so sad when people prey upon others and particularly in these tough economic times crimes increase.  I too advise my cllients about removing anything that would show personal information as well as items of value.  I also suggest they remove any items with their children's name on it that may be hanging on walls, etc, not only from a staging point of view, but also because we don't want the wrong people knowing their children's names.  Ditto hiding the knife blocks! 

May 13, 2010 05:24 AM #14
Rainer
157,174
Tom Boos
Sine & Monaghan Realtors, Real Living - Grosse Pointe Farms, MI
Providing the very best of service to Sellers and

You're right!  Many "visitors" to your home-for-sale are there for reasons other than buying a home.  I always caution my Sellers to remove all the items cited in your post from "plain view".  Small firearms, drugs, jewelry, etc. can be "easy pickins" for the unscrupulous.  Sellers beware.

May 13, 2010 05:24 AM #15
Rainmaker
325,372
Michelle Minch
Moving Mountains Design Home Staging, Pasadena, CA - Los Angeles, CA
Home Staging Los Angeles and Pasadena, CA

Very good list and important info, Karen. We hope for the best from strangers, but must be prepared for the worst. Like they say, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure!

One other item to add to the list: Keys! Many people have an extra set of house or car keys hanging by the door or laying on a table. This makes it just too easy for someone to take the keys and help themself later.

May 13, 2010 07:27 AM #16
Rainmaker
305,778
Karen Otto
Home Star Staging - Plano, TX
Plano Home Staging, Dallas Home Staging, www.homes

Hi Julie and Amy, yes I'm too am surprised when the sellers act surprised at these things. You bring up a good point about keeping the safe locked!

Yes the kid's names is an important safety issue too Kathy, thanks for reminding us!

Good rule of thumb Tom!

I am adding keys to the list up there, thank you Michelle, that's one I hadn't even thought about but this is one I am guilty of, including a spare set of car keys!

May 13, 2010 10:45 AM #17
Rainmaker
192,303
Janice Sutton
1st Stage Property Transformations - Murrieta, CA
Home Stager - Temecula Murrieta

Great list! My mother recently found an empty bottle of perscription meds that she had just picked up from the drug store the prior day. When she called her Dr. to get it refilled she mentioned that the theif took the pills but not the bottle.  The Dr. said that is because the theif didn't want any evidence that he/she had someone elses pills. Ugh...so sad!

It's too bad we can't trust everyone! 

May 13, 2010 10:48 AM #18
Rainmaker
305,778
Karen Otto
Home Star Staging - Plano, TX
Plano Home Staging, Dallas Home Staging, www.homes

That's scary Janice, is your mom selling her house?

May 13, 2010 11:05 AM #19
Rainmaker
192,303
Janice Sutton
1st Stage Property Transformations - Murrieta, CA
Home Stager - Temecula Murrieta

Actually, no....we were having a party with relatives and friends.....ugh.

May 13, 2010 02:29 PM #20
Rainmaker
305,778
Karen Otto
Home Star Staging - Plano, TX
Plano Home Staging, Dallas Home Staging, www.homes

That's even worse Janice!

May 13, 2010 03:59 PM #21
Rainmaker
360,325
Ginger Foust
Certified Staging Professional - Oakhurst, CA
Home Stager Oakhurst CA, Dream Interior Redesign & Staging

I need to add some of these to my seller's "to do" list. Thanks Karen and all contributors.  I have also told some clients with very pricey collectible artwork (Lladro, Kinkades etc) that it would be better to use other accessories and I could help with wall art.  A Pro' thief knows exactly what has value and what to go back for. 

May 13, 2010 05:52 PM #22
Rainmaker
107,602
Kathleen Garvey
HomeSmart Cherry Creek - Denver - Denver, CO
Denver's Neighborhood Expert - Listings & Sales

Great list Karen!  I had one client who left a 'cleaver' one the counter...during all the showings until I came along during a consultation and found it!  OMG! Better safe than sorry and this list is a must-do for each and every seller.

May 14, 2010 08:12 AM #23
Rainmaker
125,779
Susan Peters
Dove Realty Inc. - Seattle, WA
The Better it Looks the Better it Sells

Hi Karen,

We can't overstate the importance of security measures.

May 14, 2010 09:05 PM #24
Rainmaker
305,778
Karen Otto
Home Star Staging - Plano, TX
Plano Home Staging, Dallas Home Staging, www.homes

You make a very valid point Ginger, a pro knows exactly the value of those things, it's best to keep them out of site.

A cleaver? That's like a scene from Psycho Kathleen!

So true Susan!

May 16, 2010 02:12 PM #25
Rainmaker
400,678
John Cannata
214-728-0449 http://TexasLoanGuy.com - Frisco, TX
Texas Home Mortgage - Purchase or Refinance

Hmm.. good points Karen. I guess there are 'wierdos' out there all over and you can never be 'too safe'.

May 24, 2010 04:52 PM #26
Rainmaker
305,778
Karen Otto
Home Star Staging - Plano, TX
Plano Home Staging, Dallas Home Staging, www.homes

It's unfortunate John, but we're also more vunerable to this when selling a home.

May 25, 2010 02:47 AM #27
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