Knowledge, it has been said, is the key to power. Even if the typical buyer does not pry into the sale of a home by looking through their personal papers in search of information, there is always the possibility that an unscrupulous person will tour the home.
Even if what is spotted is not malicious, if it offers the buyer knowledge of why you’re selling or your financial picture, you may lose some of your negotiation leverage. This is true even if what is noticed gives the buyer information about why you’re selling.
While your property is on the market, there are a number of steps you may take to maintain your sense of privacy.
1. See those stacks of mail on the counter?
They need to be stored somewhere else. It may be obvious why you are selling your property if you have unpaid bills or if you have received correspondence from attorneys specializing in family law.
Even your mortgage statements may contain information that the buyer shouldn’t have access to at this stage of the transaction.
Put them away in a secure location, if you have one. In that case, you might want to think about putting them in bags and storing them in the trunk of your car.
2. Clear the walls
It’s no one’s business that you just graduated from college (and therefore have a lot of debt) or hold an advanced degree (a sign of deep pockets).
Get the diplomas and degrees off the wall and into storage.
Also, consider removing anything else that includes family members’ names or achievements.
3. Clean out the closets
Yes, potential buyers open closets. All that mail and those diplomas you removed from the counters and walls? Don’t put them in the closet.
Do a check of closets to ensure no personal papers are left out.
4. Check the drawers
I hope you didn’t put the stacks of mail in a kitchen drawer. Yes, potential buyers open drawers as well. Box up and remove anything of a personal nature prior to showing your home.
5. What kind of reading material is lying around?
Trade journals and magazines can be a clue to how you make a living. If Single Parent magazine is sitting on the living room coffee table, a buyer may assume you’re in the process of getting a divorce.
The bottom line is: don’t give potential buyers personal information that could put them in a more powerful bargaining position.
6. And don’t give identity thieves the keys to your private life
This is just a short list of items to remove from view and, preferably, from the home:
- Bank statements
- Checkbooks and deposit slips
- Credit card and loan statements
- Anything that includes your driver’s license and/or social security number
- Insurance policies
- Anything to do with your mortgage
- Legal documents
- Anything having to do with taxes
- Anything that lists your passwords and pin
7. How is your Wi-Fi network security?
If you’re unsure how to secure your network plan on disconnecting your Wi-Fi and disabling smart devices during showings and open houses.
“… without the proper security, someone could easily hop onto your wireless network,” according to Nathan Chandler & Wesley Fenlon at electronics.howstuffworks.com.
This someone could be a savvy identity thief.
As mentioned earlier, the vast majority of home showings and open houses go off without a hitch. But it pays to be prepared for that rare occasion when someone wants your private information.
Please feel free to reach out to us with any questions.