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Safety Matters: Open houses can be dangerous

WESTERN NEW YORK — For-sale signs dot lawns in every community. Open houses are listed in the paper, on real estate websites and on social media sites.

Typically, you would not invite a stranger into your home, but that is just what you do, when you hold an open house or show your house yourself.

Dozens of people may enter your home, checking out more than just granite counter tops or hardwood floors. Short of doing a background check on everyone walking through the door, you need to be vigilant and minimize your chance of becoming a victim.

Several thousand dollars’ worth of personal belongings were recently stolen from a Wales homeowner who had just conducted an open house.

Now is a good time to brush up on a few safety tips, when it comes to selling your home.

The National Association of Realtors gave the following tips:

– Never show your home alone, whether you are using a realtor or are selling it, yourself. The person showing the home should be accompanied by a friend or an associate, who can help keep an eye on the people who come inside.

– If possible, take a moment to walk outside to document prospective buyers’ license plates or ask a trusted neighbor to do that.

– Hide all valuables in a safe place.

– Remove keys, credit cards, jewelry, crystal, furs and other valuables from the home or lock them up during the showings.

– Remove or lock up all weapons and ammunition.

– Remove prescription drugs from the premises or hide them in a safe location.

– Store personal information like mail or bills out of sight.

– Shut down your computer. Do not leave any screens open.

– Lock up or hide laptops and any other expensive, easy-to-pocket electronics, like iPods®, Kindles® or cell phones.

– Check doors and windows after every showing, because you would not want a prospective thief masquerading as a prospective home buyer to unlock a back door or window, only to re-enter at a later time.

– Utilize lights, alarms and motion detectors and, if possible, surveillance cameras.

Crime occurs when opportunity meets desire. Your job in trying to sell your home is to help minimize or alleviate that opportunity, altogether. Good luck!
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