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Open House Safety Tips

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Different sellers have different reactions to the idea of hosting an open house to market their property. Some take no issue with it, and others fear for their belongings, and even their personal safety – and with good reason! In certain situations, holding an open house might be ill advised (check out this article on whether or not to host an open house), and you should definitely consult your REALTOR® on whether an open house is right for your property. But for those who have already arrived at the decision that an open house is right for them, it is important to know how to keep the safety of your belongings and yourself as your top priority.

1. Remove your valuables.

This may seem like common sense, but you would be surprised at how often REALTOR® see valuable collections, artwork, furniture, jewelry, and clothing still on display during an open house. If you are still living in the home it may be difficult to find a place to store these things, but remember, you are moving out when you sell the home anyway, so you might as well get as much packed up and out as you can before the house goes on the market. Try using a temporary storage facility if necessary.

2. Thoroughly inspect the home post open house.

One common way of taking advantage of a seller is by attending the open house and finding a window or door and tampering with it so it can’t be locked. They then return later when the home is empty and gain entry through the jammed window or door. You should test every window and exterior door for efficacy after your last guest leaves to avoid perfidy.

3. Use a sign in sheet.

Anyone who wants to take part in the open house must sign in first. By making this a hard and fast rule and sticking to it you can deter aspiring miscreants by keeping a list of everyone who attends. If they do not want to sign in, that’s fine, you are under no obligation to let them in.

4. Schedule your open house early in the day.

Hold your open house as early as you can, and never hold a house open in the twilight hours. Again, this may seem obvious, but more light makes it easier for your agent to keep track of visitors. It is much harder to be sneaky in a well-lit home than in a dark one. Additionally, holding an early open house will be more likely to attract buyers who are actively looking for a home, while nosy neighbors and tire kickers will be less likely to go out of their way if they are otherwise busy.

5. Remove your valuables before you take pictures.

Posting pictures of a home full of valuables is asking for trouble. Once a REALTOR® posts pictures to the MLS they will be syndicated to other sites such as Zillow, Homes, and Realtor.com. At this point they may be nearly impossible to scrub from the internet, so before your coin collection goes on display for the world to see, along with its exact location within your house, take the time to remove your valuables before the photographer arrives.

6. Keep your open house short and sweet.

Buyers who are actively looking will be able to find time in a two-hour window to attend your open house. If they can’t attend, they can request a private showing through their REALTOR®. If they don’t have a REALTOR®, or at the very least a pre-approval, they probably aren’t as serious about buying as you are about selling. Keeping your home open for an excessive amount of time is not necessary and should be avoided.

Following these simple steps will go a long way to minimize potential risk exposure from an open house. If complicity with the above recommendations is not possible for one reason or another, it may be wise to not hold an open house. Consult your REALTOR® as to the best course of action, don’t be afraid to ask questions, and never ever commit to an open house that you are less than totally prepared to host.

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