Styled, Staged & Sold

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Thieves Target Staged Homes—Is it time for a House-Sitter?

By Melissa Dittmann Tracey

Watch those high-end furnishings and fancy décor you use to stage your listings. Real estate practitioners in California are reporting a surge in staged, unoccupied homes being burglarized in affluent areas. Thieves are making off with linens, dressers, sofas, table lamps, mirrors, and even flat-screen televisions.

“These are highly aesthetic crimes. The thief seems to be someone with very good taste, somebody who knows that mauve is out," D.J. Grubb, the president of the Oakland, Calif.-based Grubb Co., told reporter Heidi Schumann for a New York Times article, "Houses, Decked Out for Sale, are Burglarized."

Stager Bonnie Pearson in Emeryville, Calif., told the New York Times that she estimates that the two Piedmont, Calif., robberies in her listings cost her $11,000 in furniture and accessories.

The Oakland Association of REALTORS® sent an e-mail message warning its members last week about the burglaries and provided some tips to prevent their listings from being targeted too. For example, make sure the neighbors know that no one is authorized to take property out of the house and consider installing an alarm system.

Or, maybe it's time to hire a house-sitter to keep watch of your vacant listings. In January, I interviewed real estate practitioner Diane Uphus of Select Real Estate in Spokane, Wash., for an article in REALTOR® Magazine about how Uphus added house-sitting to her real estate business to

keep her vacant listings safe from vandals—not to mention, earn some extra cash.

A house sitter moves in to the vacant property, pays rent, keeps the home tidy (since it's still on the market), and is ready at a moment's notice to move out if the house sells. (Read the story: House-Sitters: Take the Vacancy Out of Vacant Homes).

So maybe a house-sitter is just what your staged property needs to deter any would-be vandals from carting away any of your fancy furnishings and staging accessories.

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