If you're selling a home, you'll probably have strangers walking through. Time to get organized.
- Put bills and financial papers -- anything with names and account numbers -- in one box, preferably with a lock. Put that box on a high shelf in a closet, marked "family photos" or something bland.
- Pack up decorative items with personal information such as marriage certificates, diplomas and family trees, says Ron Phipps, president of the National Association of Realtors. And don't leave computer passwords taped to your desk.
- Box up small valuables: personal electronics, coins and collectibles, cash, jewelry or other treasures, says Pat Vredevoogd Combs, former president of the National Association of Realtors.
- Another target: prescription drugs. "There shouldn't be any on the premises," Combs says.
- Discuss what strategies your agent will use to safeguard your privacy and your things. Decide what personal information your agent can and can't share. (Buyers don't need to know that you're single and travel often.)
Select an agent licensed by the state and registered with your local board, Combs says. And be realistic: No one can completely control everyone's movements during an open house, she says.