With clients trying to sell their homes during this festive time of year, it’s important to use a little extra caution, in regards to both their personal items and the safety of potential buyers.
According to Allstate Insurance Company, theft is up seven percent during this time of year, so remind clients to keep their personal items safe and secure. Additionally, with inclement weather, as well as the decorative props used during the holidays, potential buyers face an injury risk that could become a headache for you.
Deanna Lawley, public relations manager for HomeFinder.com, offers six tips on protecting your clients’ home during the holidays.
Clean up the clutter
Cleaning and depersonalizing your home is the first step in staging to sell, so prospective buyers can envision themselves living in your home. De-cluttering is also important to keep visitors safe while touring your home. Eliminate the risk of tripping over toys, clothing and miscellaneous items, and remove ottomans and end tables from high traffic and narrow areas. If you need to create more space in your home, consider renting a temporary storage unit. You will be able to help your home’s best features stand out, and create a safer atmosphere for house hunters.
Once you’ve removed the toys and other clutter, help prevent slip-and-fall accidents throughout the rest of the house. Repair broken tiles or steps, and replace faulty handrails on staircases. Keep the lawn and sidewalks clear of toys and tools, too.
Don’t tempt strangers
Most potential buyers will tour your home when you’re not there, so keep your jewelry, collectibles, and other high-value items locked away. Also remember to remove all pieces of paper that include personal information. Visitors will be opening your cabinets, drawers and cabinets so make sure your credit card statements; blank checks or bank statements; and even prescription drugs are removed. When you get rid of the clutter, look at your house the way a criminal would. Remove any temptations – either put them in your storage unit or in a secure spot in the house – a safe or a drawer you can lock.
Keep the neighbors looped in
Tell the neighbors you’re putting the house is on the market before planting the for sale sign in the ground. It’s a nice courtesy, and they can be your eyes and ears when the house is being shown.
Keep your pets close
Most dogs don’t like strangers, especially if an owner isn’t around to speak some soothing words. When you know a prospective buyer is coming, take your dog with you. If your dog bites a prospective buyer, you could lose a sale – and face a lawsuit. Dog bite claims average nearly $28,000, according to the Insurance Information Institute.
Consider an umbrella insurance policy
Standard home insurance can reimburse you for stolen valuables, and it provides coverage – up to your personal liability coverage limits – if someone gets hurt and decides to sue. Limits start at $100,000 but can be raised to $300,000 or $500,000. Those numbers seem large, but the cost of your legal defense and any award if you lose the case can quickly exhaust your coverage. An umbrella policy can increase your liability coverage to $1 million or more. That might be worth considering when you put the house on the market.