Q. My agent has suggested I leave a set of house keys with her. Is this a good idea?

ASK THE EXPERT

A. The short answer is yes. Leaving a set of keys with your agent has a number of real advantages. For example, there’s always the possibility that a really hot buyer might turn up more or less out of the blue - perhaps when you’re out at work, or away for a long weekend. But even in the normal course of events, leaving a key with your agent will help her (or him) conduct accompanied viewings on your behalf. After all, you probably won’t want to be making a special trip into her office to drop a key off every time - and it’s a lot better than leaving a key under the mat!

Then again, if you go away for any length of time, handing over a key means that your agent can pop round occasionally just to keep an eye on the place, or give it a bit of an airing. And of course, if the worst were to happen while you’re away - like a burst pipe or even a break-in - it means your agent would be able to alert you in good time and make suitable arrangements for the necessary repairs.

In short, leaving a key with your agent enables you to continue leading your normal life - despite the fact that your home is on the market.

Finally, if you are concerned about security, then relax. As part and parcel of the duty of care we owe our clients, all agents who undertake to hold keys are legally required to have clear procedures in place to eliminate any possible risk. So, all keys will be stored in a secure location - generally an office safe or strongbox. As an added precaution, individual keys will normally only be tagged with a reference number. The list identifying which number goes with which property will always be kept separately - either elsewhere in the office or in a different location altogether. So, even if by some chance your key were to fall into the wrong hands, it would be next to impossible to link it with your property.