Holding an open house is an excellent way to drive traffic to your listings, and since some of the people who stop by aren’t represented by an agent open houses can connect you with potential clients. But with any open house, you never know who will walk through the door. And sometimes, safety is an issue.
Fortunately, there are simple tips for a safe open house.
1. Ask clients to lock up their valuables
Encourage sellers to remove any valuables from the home or keep these items locked away. People will flow in and out of the home, and if you have multiple buyers in the home at one time, it’s impossible to keep an eye on everyone.
When walking through the house on their own, some people might snoop in closets and drawers and walk off with a client’s valuable items, such as jewelry, electronics, etc. Having a client’s home robbed during an open house leaves a bad impression and impacts your reputation. Ideally, you should walk through the house with those who show up, but this isn't always possible.
2. Lock the storm door
Another way to protect yourself during an open house is to the keep the storm door or the front door locked. This way, no one sneaks up on you. If you prefer keeping the doors unlocked to give potential buyers easier access to the property, purchase a cheap battery-operated stick-on chime for the front door. Any time the door opens or closes, the chime sounds an alarm alerting you.
3. Ask everyone to sign in
Another way to protect yourself is to ask everyone who walks through the door to sign in. You can even go as far as asking to see their driver’s license to ensure the name matches with the name on the sheet. Signing in is also beneficial because you'll get their name, telephone number and email address, which allows you to follow up at a later time. You can receive feedback on why they didn't choose the property, and if the person isn't represented by a realtor, you can discuss helping with their real estate needs.
4. Walk behind potential buyers
As you walk through the property with buyers, always remember to walk behind them, not in front of them. Rather than lead them through the house, guide them. When a buyer enters a room—especially small spaces like a closet or a bathroom—don't enter the room with them. Stand at the door while highlighting features of the space. By taking this approach, you reduce the risk of being cornered by someone.
5. Plan your escape route
Just in case you have problems, always walk through the house before the open house begins and plan your escape route. Take note of easy and quick ways to exit the home in an emergency.
6. Make sure you have a full cellphone charge
Before any open house, make sure your cell phone has a full charge, and keep your phone with you while showing the property to prospective buyers. This is vital because a visitor could make you feel uncomfortable during the open house. If you can’t exit the property, another option is running into a room, locking the door and using your cell phone to call for help.
7. Work in teams
Some real estate agents work alone during open houses, but there's also the option of working in teams. Maybe you can tag-team with another agent and work together. Having two agents on site is also helpful when a home receives a lot of traffic. This ensures every prospective buyer receives an equal amount of attention. As one agent guides a buyer through the house, the other agent is available to speak with others who enter the home at the same time. Plus, there’s safety in numbers. If someone walks in the home and sees two agents working the property, they are less likely to take advantage of the situation.
8. Bring only what you need
Chances are you'll be safe during your open houses. But just in case, only bring what you need inside the home. Essential items might include your cell phone and information to give prospective buyers. As far as your wallet, money and credit cards, keep these items locked in your glove box or in the trunk of your car. If you have to bring personal items inside the home, keep these out of sight of prospective buyers.
Follow these tips to ensure safety to yourself and your clients.
Have you ever hosted an open house that went awry? How did you handle it? We’d love to hear about it in the comments below.