Everyone knows not to leave cash on the kitchen counter or jewelry sitting on your nightstand before an open house but there are other things besides valuables you should think about stashing away. Thankfully, with a bit of due diligence, it’s unlikely you’ll run into any issues.
“I’ve only had one screwdriver stolen during a property visit in my 23-year real estate career,” says Katia Samson, a REALTOR® and certified real estate broker with Group Sutton Centre Ouest in Montreal. “I always do a tour of the property before any showings and if I think an item should be put away, I tuck it in a drawer.”
- Mail, private documents and passwords
If identity thieves don’t mind rooting through your garbage to find personal information, they will happily swipe it off your desk. Tuck away your mail, social insurance card, banks statements, passport, utility bills and credit cards. If you can’t take these things with you, hide them somewhere visitors won’t find them. This goes for your online passwords, too. Don’t display your Wi-Fi password and avoid leaving a list of your personal passwords taped next to your computer.
You may already know the smell of smoke is a huge turnoff to home buyers, but even the suggestion people light up in your home is enough to make them move on to the next property.
“If a property smells like tobacco or marijuana, it will be very difficult to sell,” says Samson.
- Plug-in air fresheners
Yes, you want your house to look and smell fresh, but buyers might be sensitive to that flowery mist. Worse, they might wonder if you’re trying to cover up a bigger problem. While you’re at it, avoid sloshing bleach or other harsh chemical cleaners everywhere before the open house begins–buyers might think you’re concealing mould issues and could be turned off by the harsh smell.
- Fans or space heaters
Neither of these items will do you any favours in the décor department, but buyers who see spot heaters plugged in everywhere may also wonder if something is wrong with the heating system or if your home is poorly insulated. On the flipside, fans may suggest the house can get too hot.
- Pets and their stuff
We know you’d never leave your dog–even in its crate–during an open house, but you may also want to pick up food dishes, slobbery toys, litter boxes and other things that suggest an animal lives in the house. Buyers who don’t like cats or dogs don’t want to wonder if your pet has peed all over the basement carpets.
“Any signs that an animal is part of the household should be removed from sight for visits,” says Samson. Which means, don’t forget to thoroughly vacuum furniture if your furry friend sheds everywhere.
- Prescription drugs
Thieves are more likely to steal valuable medication than wander off with a piece of jewelry, so don’t make it easy for them to find any. That means clearing out the medicine cabinet, your night table drawer and your kitchen cupboard if you usually store meds there.
- Fridge magnets and family photos
Take down the wedding photos, kids’ awards, plaques, school photos and even magnets on your fridge. “Items that might make clients uncomfortable should be put away as well, such as toothbrushes, sponges in showers, hygiene items and dirty laundry,” adds Samson.
Not only is this a good way to declutter, but buyers will be able to see themselves living in the space if it doesn’t seem so personal.
- Valuable paintings, sculptures or heirlooms
Electronics are not the only items that can mysteriously disappear during an open house, so keep expensive things away from view. Even if thieves can’t walk out with a large sculpture, don’t tempt them to come back and steal it another time.
- Your keys and remotes
Nothing screams, “Come back some time and rob our house or steal our car!” more than extra keys dangling from hooks in your entry hall; ditto for the garage door opener. Store these items in a safe, secure place or bring keys and remotes with you when the open house begins.
While it’s very unlikely you’ll encounter any issues during an open house, it’s good common sense to take precautions. Listen to your REALTOR® and use your best judgment for a safe and successful experience.