Your home on the market is a prime target for thieves, especially at this time of year.

Because when many people go on vacation, the thieves go to work.
    Because holiday time is when people are more likely to have more cash and valuable new items at home.
      Because even thieves get desperate for more money at Christmastime.
        Because homeowners are often too busy to bother with simple safety procedures.
          If you need one more reason why it makes sense to stage your home for sale, a staged home looks convincingly lived in and in itself is a deterrent to break-ins.

          Here are some other steps you can take to squelch trouble when you are away.

          1. Lock up tight. 

          My Daddy always said, "It doesn't cost anything to lock the door." Add windows to his advice.

          2. Create the illusion 

          Make sure your realtor knows when you are away. Give your keys to a good neighbor or willing friend, and ask that they check the condition of your interior and exterior for signs of vacancy like junk mail deposited on your step, snow piled up around the doors, or moldy fruit on the kitchen counter (another argument for faux fruit and flowers).

          3. Stop mail. 

          Maintain a lived-in look by having your mail held by the post office or picked up by a neighbor.

          4. Frost the windows, secure the garage. 

          Thieves check garages for empty ones. Make your garage windows opaque with this product and disconnect the automatic overhead opener (by just getting on a step ladder and unplugging it). Lock the door between the attached garage and house.

          5. Fool 'em. 

          Invest in a few inexpensive timers to turn lights on and off. I always leave a radio set to come on from midnight until 2 a.m.

          6. Duh. 

          Don't hide keys under flower pots or doormats, inside an unlocked mailbox, over the doorway, or in other obvious places.

          7. Be secretive. 

          Do not publicize your plans. Burglars will scan local newspapers and community list-serves for ads requesting pet sitters and house-sitters.

          Even if you are not going on vacation, a home on the market needs to be protected from troublemakers who might be actually touring your home with a realtor or by a member of your family if you are FSBO. Take these precautions:
          • Hide all prescriptions (especially ones with "street value") in a secure place.
          • Never stage your home with precious art, expensive rugs, family heirlooms, or easily pawn-able stuff. Large valuables that can't be pocketed can be stolen when you are away for the evening or at work during the day. Be sure your homeowner's insurance is current. Does your policy include that new giant flatscreen, for example?
          • Keep calendars out of sight because they may have information handy for thieves to know, like when you're away for the evening.
          • Don't keep cash on hand. Professional buglers know all the hiding places. Best places to hide cash: in books you have customized to hold a stack of bills, or in fake cans like these.
          • Lock away paperwork that would be of value to an identity thief.
          • Ask your realtor what steps she takes to minimize the risk of objects being stolen. She should be taking names and contact info from anyone she shows the house to -- before the house tour.  Ideally, two brokers would accompany any party of two or more "potential buyers." Unfortunately, there are dishonest people ready to take advantage of realtors and homeowners at open houses and tours, and they operate like professionals. 

          Making your home sage from trouble sounds like work, but once you have these simple suggestions in place, your peace of mind is the reward. Being prepared also means you can return to the proper state of mind for this time of year, namely, " Goodwill towards all."

          Do you want more tips to help you navigate the waters of home selling? Download my $4.99 eBook, DIY Home Staging Tips to Sell Your Home Fast and for Top Dollar. It mill make your New Year bright by giving you all the tricks, techniques and secrets to success home staging.