Showing your home is a huge part of the moving process. Potential buyers want to know what the house is like to see if they can picture themselves starting a life there. However, holding open houses puts your home in a vulnerable position as strangers will be coming and going constantly. Home security systems and other measures will be your best friend during the showing process. Here are a few tips for protecting your belongings:

1. Hide and Lock Your Valuables

Keep your most valuable belongings hidden during open house times. Potential buyers – or secret thieves – could see a necklace laying on the countertop or a pricey electronic sitting in the kitchen. They may be tempted to steal the item on the spot or come back for another showing. Don’t temp wandering fingers by leaving these items in plain sight. In fact, the best thing to do would be to keep them under lock and key. Purchase a lock box and stow your belongings before a showing.

2. Conceal Personal Information

Credit card statements, addresses, phone numbers, your college diploma and more should be removed prior to an open house. Anything that gives away information about your personal life could be used by a thief whether they want to steal your identity or case your new home. Pack these papers away so that viewers cannot see them. If there are items you still need during the selling process, keep them in a locking file cabinet and take the key with you when you leave.

3. Don’t Leave Keys Out

You and the little lock box on your door knob are the only ones who should have the keys to your home. Don’t leave out spares because they can be easily nabbed by a potential burglar. Should someone get the keys, they may return at a later date and easily enter your home.

4. Never Show the House Alone

Whether you’re selling by owner or are a realtor, never show the house alone. Ask a friend or associate to accompany you and act as backup. While you share the features of the house, your sidekick can keep an eye on the buyers. This measure can help prevent an assault or burglary, or simply give you peace of mind.

5. Don’t Uninstall Home Security

You probably want to take your home security alarms with you to your next house. However, you should wait to take them down until after you’ve closed on the house. The security system will monitor your home during showings and alert you of break-ins that can happen after the fact. Tell your realtor that you’ll be leaving the system installed so that he or she is aware.

6. Monitor Open Houses

Use the SMART Connect app to watch live video feed of your house remotely. You can be monitoring the situation while the realtor is showing off your home. Since the realtor is focused on selling the house, he or she may not notice a wandering hand. However, from your vantage point, you might catch it. You can also access archived video if you are unable to sit in front of a computer or your smartphone during the open house. Review the footage after the open house to ensure everything went smoothly. If something did happen, you have evidence to give police.

7. Insist on a Sign-in Sheet

Require all visitors to sign-in before being shown the house. Explain that the gesture is important for security purposes and ask to see a photo ID – burglars will give a fake name. If people are reluctant to sign, reiterate that they cannot see the house unless they meet this condition.

8. Conduct Group Showings

You or your realtor can show the home to several parties at once. Not only will the presence of extra people discourage potential thieves, but it will also help drive competition. If two or more families love the house, they may attempt to outbid one another in order to get it. They may also point out nice features that another family may not have noticed. Let buyers know that you’re only doing group showings and ask them to schedule a time with you or the realtor.

9. Check the House Afterward

Walk through your home after the showing and check the locks on your doors and windows. Many burglars will unlatch entry points so they can easily break in later.

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