Open houses can be great sales tools, for both Real Estate agents and for a FSBO (for sale by owner). There is a potential for risk for both anytime a house is being shown – a seasoned agent is trained to do a host of inquiries and knows how to show the house to put themselves at as little risk as possible but for a FSBO showing their home to a caller they can put themselves open to potential harm. When an agent gets a call to see a house they or their office or both try to get pertinent information on the potential client – who, what, where, when and how; when a homeowner is selling themselves – they ask the name and when they want to see it. Usually for a FSBO there is no one else home, sometimes no one even knows there will be a showing – even the dog gets locked up for the visitors. In a home showing both the human showing it and the home are vulnerable at that time; and the home may be at risk for a future crime. Most Real Estate agents know how to open a home for a showing, guide the potential buyer through and secure it again. Most areas and houses are considered safe but there can always be that one person looking to harm in some way – and they are there to view the home for the wrong reason. Stay safe by practicing some guidelines.
- Pick the open house hours with daylight and neighborhood in mind!
- If you are a FSBO and having your own open house – keep in mind you are letting strangers in your home.
- Agents will have their homeowners prepare the home ahead of the viewings – important items secured out of sight and harm’s way.
- Check your cell phone’s strength and signal at that location prior to the open house. If your phone battery loses charge quickly bring your charging cord or an extra battery. Many homes now do not have a home phone service.
- All rooms will be brightly lit to enhance the look and all curtains open to show off the views.
- As prospective buyers come – make sure you have the sign-in sheet ready for them and that they fill in their information – and you make a mental note of how your new guests look and how they make you feel upon their entrance – first gut feelings are usually the best!
- Open rear doors to enable potential buyers to view the lovely yard landscape or swimming pool area; make a note of those who exit so you are aware they have re-entered or be their guide to the outdoor patio area.
- If you feel uneasy with anyone’s presence – make note of their vehicle and their physical appearance. Are they looking more at the furnishing and tech items than the home itself? Could they be looking to come back to burglarize? Or are they just focused on the things and not the home – maybe they are nosy neighbors!
- When showing the house, always walk behind the prospect. Direct your guests don’t lead them, gesture for them to go ahead of you saying, “The guest room is on the right” and you will already have the lights on and the draperies open.
- Make arrangements to call in to either the office or a friend half-way thru the open house and again at the end to let them know you are closing up and securing the home. If you don’t call, they are to come there or notify the police.
- Inform a neighbor that you will be showing the house and ask if he or she would keep an eye and ear open for anything out of the ordinary.
- When you are closing the house at the end of the day – check the outside area and then all windows and door locks to make sure no one has opened them for future convenience of breaking in, turn out all lights and close curtains or window coverings as they usually are. Lock and leave if you are an agent you will call the homeowner to report they can return home and how the traffic flow of potential buyers is and for a FSBO you can lock and return to your usual day – with a plan of how to handle a future showing or what to do with the names and numbers you collected.. Oh and don’t forget to let the dog back out!
Some of these tips may sound extreme – they may be for your area -“These things never happen in this neighborhood” but there can always be that one unexpected time or that one unexpected person who saw your open house as an opportunity. With a tight economy and crime on the rise you should never let your guard down!