Holding an open house is a great way to increase exposure of your property to potential buyers, but there always is the unfortunate reality that thefts can occur. So, what can you do to protect yourself?

The first step is to create an action plan with your registered broker or real estate agent to make sure you are both clear on your responsibilities before, during and after each open house.

As a homeowner, remove all valuables or lock them carefully away before each open house. Remember spare keys too! In these times of identify theft, valuables include any personal identifying information, such as utility bills, receipts, even magazines. Remove, unplug, and/or password protect any electronic devices with personal information, such as smartphones and laptops, etc. These devices are both targets for thieves and sources of personal information. You may even wish to take down any calendars as potential thieves can easily see when you plan to be away, for example, “Jessica’s soccer game 4 – 7 p.m. Saturday.” Also, remove any personal photos of your immediate family.

Find out from your real estate representative how they will be keeping track of who has entered the property. A would-be thief could be deterred if they know their identity has been logged, and knowing who attended the open house is crucial if anything goes missing and you need to file a police report.

Communicate with your real estate agent about locking up after the open house. Real estate agents take their responsibilities seriously and are diligent about ensuring your home is in the condition you left it, including lights turned off and doors locked. All entry points should be double-checked again when you return to your home.

With a clean and comprehensive action plan in place for protecting your home and valuables, your open house is sure to be a success.