As if putting your home on the market was not stressful enough, San Carlos sellers now have a new issue of concern: theft. On Thursday evening’s newscast, NBC ran a segment discussing a theft in a San Carlos home, which also happens to be for sale in White Oaks. Unfortunately, the sellers lost family heirlooms and a well hidden engagement ring. Additionally, and while not part of NBC’s story, there was another highly suspicious incident at another White Oaks listing about seven days ago. A link to the NBC story will be placed here as soon as it is made available to the public.
Understanding the Risk
If you are going to keep belongings in your home while it is listed, understand that there is a risk. I have always told all of my sellers that if there is something they absolutely cannot live without, take it out of the house. If your home is for sale, there will be an opportunity for theft. No matter how cautious you may be, there will always be a window of opportunity.
What is Being Stolen?
Anything and everything. Valuables, prescription drugs and personal information are all high on the list of criminals for this type of crime. I can’t tell you how many times I have been into a listed home and seen credit cards, brokerage account statements, social security numbers, etc….just lying on the kitchen table or somewhere else in plain view. Common sense and taking every reasonable precaution goes a long way.
How Thefts Can Occur in Listed Homes
(1) Open Houses. I always try to keep an eye on each person walking through the door of one of my open houses, but the truth of the matter is that most San Carlos open houses (especially the first one) are packed. It’s not unusual to have 20 or more people in the house at the same time. There simply is no way to keep track of them all and what they may be doing in rooms you cannot see. Note: some criminals use the open house as an opportunity to set up a theft to occur later that day. For example, instead of taking something while no one is looking at the open house, they unlatch a window or slip something in the door frame to prevent a door from being properly locked.
Mitigate Your Risk: >>> As an agent, you have to check and double check each and every possible opening to the house prior to leaving. If you are truly expecting a packed house all day, have two agents at the property. One stands by the door, the other in another part of the home. Letting those coming through the door know that there is more than one agent in the house should make would-be-criminals think twice.
(2) Showing Appointments. An agent gets a call from a buyer wanting to see a particular house. The agent has not had an opportunity to adequately screen the buyers, but shows them the house anyway. One buyer keeps the agent busy while the other robs the seller.
Mitigate Your Risk: >>> Make all private showings for your home, what realtors call “By Appointment Only”….meaning that in addition to the buyer and the buyer’s agent being at the property, the listing agent must also be there.
(3) Vacant Homes. If a potential criminal knows your home is vacant, it opens up a host of possibilities for a theft. Breaking into a home when nobody is there is obviously a far easier task for a criminal.
Mitigate your Risk: >>> If your home is going to be vacant, clear anything of value out of it as well. Very few criminals want to risk a break-in merely to steal staging furniture.
Putting your home on the market and having hundreds of people through it presents certain risks. I would encourage all sellers to work with their realtor to make sure that every precaution is being taken to minimize the risk of a crime.