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Wednesday, 26 June 2019
Agent Resource Center
This Old House - Do-it-Yourself

How to Keep Your House Safe During an Open House

Written by Posted On Thursday, 04 April 2019 08:54
How to Keep Your Home Safe During an Open House How to Keep Your Home Safe During an Open House

How to Avoid Being Robbed From An Open House

The most obvious way to keep your home safe is to avoid doing an open house altogether. Let me make this perfectly clear right off the bat. An open house is completely unnecessary to sell a home. So when people ask do open houses work, the answer is NO!

A very low percentage of homes sell during an open house. What's even more important to understand is those who end up writing an offer would have done so by scheduling an appointment if there was no open house.

Will this advice make most real estate agents happy? No it won't. A significant percentage of real estate agents rely on open houses to prospect for future business. If you thought it was because a buyer who had never thought about purchasing a home is going to stop by an write an offer, you're living in fantasy land.

You have just as good odds of winning the lottery. Real buyers schedule showings for homes they are interested in purchasing. It is that simple. The internet changed the need for open houses. Any real estate agent who tells you otherwise is lying!

If you aren't convinced that what I'm telling you is the truth then make sure you take these precautions when having an open house.

Safety and Family Valuables

Wouldn't it be great if all of the potential people entering your home were honest? Unfortunately, they are not and you should not underestimate what people will try to get away with during an open house. Theft is commonplace at open houses. Open houses increase the chances you'll be robbed. It is one of the best kept secrets in real estate. What you think a real estate agent who uses open houses to prospect for business is going to tell you? Fat chance!

Well, I am not one of those agents. The realization that my clients homes will sell regardless of an open house made me change my mind about this scam many years ago. In case you're wondering, I've averaged eighty sales a year without an open house for the past ten years.

Given it's unlikely your agent will educate you on this - there are certain things that you should not leave out at an open house. They include precious jewelry and other valuables. You may have spent a long time collecting a special kind of glassware and you would like to show it off. However, you are probably not the only one to appreciate your collection. You be surprised - it only takes a few seconds to slip something into a bag or pocket.

Jewelry and jewelry boxes are a big no-no. If you can get them out of the house or lock them in a safe. You really don't know the people who are going to be walking through your home - they may just want to help themselves to your grandma's ring or necklace. In the last couple years, I know of four instances where the homeowner lost five thousand to fifteen thousand dollars worth of valuables.

Do you think these agents who held the open houses stopped doing them? NOPE!

The same applies to important paperwork, you should never leave bank statements or financial information where someone can find it easily. Leaving financial paperwork visible is just asking for trouble.

One Room At a Time

If your real estate agent is showing the visitors around, ask them to walk behind them and remain a short distance away at all times. In this way, you can make sure that all visitors have exited the room or the property.

Have your agent do a headcount before entry. The agent may even want to limit the number of people per showing. Groups of eight people or more can be difficult to control and should be avoided.

If you expect there will be a significant volume of visitors through your home, you should ask your real estate agent to team up with a second person. A second set of eyes will be helpful.

What About Security Cameras?

Some homeowners go to the extreme of installing cameras to monitor home buyers. Is it really extreme? Not really, it is a good idea. You can keep an eye on the proceedings from a laptop. It also gives you a chance to assess people's reactions. Did they like your home? Are people in and out very quickly or are they hovering around?

Don't make it too obvious though - it may come across as invasive. Make sure you check with your state if it is legal to do. Some states do not allow taping of others.

Should You Be There?

No! Like showings, a seller should not be present for an open house. You will need to trust your agent and stay out of the way. The best time for an open house would normally be during the weekend. Never have an open house during the evening. Not only are most people tired from having worked all day, but you may miss out on the chance of showing off your grounds if they are special.

What About Your Furry Friends?

If you are a cat owner, it will not matter too much. However, it is a good idea to send Fido to doggie daycare. Sure, he probably loves one or two visitors, but you never know how they will react to a whole group. You don't want to end up with anyone being bitten or even stains on the carpet.

It is important to remove any evidence of pets as some people can be turned off by it. You will find this to be true with people who have allergies. Here are some great tips for selling a home with pets.

Are You Insured?

Not all home insurance policies include extra protection for large groups. Make sure that you check with your insurance company. You will probably be fine but it will be worth checking. If you have a pool that might be an additional concern, especially if kids are in attendance at the open house.

Unfortunately, it is difficult to tell your real estate agent that your home is a no-go area for youngsters.

Only One Entrance and Exit

Don't leave every door open to your front or back yard. It is all too easy for someone to sneak in and make themselves at home. It is not unheard of that thieves come to the open house without taking anything.

Instead, the scope out your home's weaknesses and then return at a later date. They may even unlock a certain window thinking you won't notice.

Why Do Real Estate Agents Have an Open House?

I know first hand that lots of people wonder why real estate agents hold open houses if they are so ineffective for selling a home. The answer is really simple. They offer prospecting benefits for the agent. Here are some great things that can happen for a real estate agent who holds an open house:

They collect a significant amount of buyer's who can't afford the subject property but will be buying a house none the less.

A neighbor who is thinking of selling their home strikes up a great rapport with the agent. WA LA - the agent now has a shot at another listing in the neighborhood.

A great branding opportunity. Nothing may come of the open house at all but if the neighbors remember the agent it can lead to future business.

The chance of getting lucky and double siding a sale, often creating dual agency where the seller is no longer represented.

All these things are great for real estate agents. What do they do for a seller? Nothing! The open house, however, opens the property up to significant risks mentioned already. So when people talk about pros and cons of an open house from a seller's perspective, it is getting shit lucky. But, do you really want to go through the aggravation and risk when it will be just as easy to sell without one? It's surely something to think about. In fact, you should ask all the real estate agents you're interviewing their policy on open houses. To be clear it SHOULD NOT be a focus.

Final Thoughts

Keeping your house safe during an open house can be difficult at times. It will be impossible for a real estate agent to watch everyone in a strong spring seller's real estate market. It is not unheard of to have twenty couples during a beautiful spring day.

The thing is why would you want to have a mix of people who do and don't belong? You can skip the open house and have only vetted buyers with scheduled showings. Instead of having a mix of people who do and don't belong with an open house, you'll have REAL buyers with scheduled showings.

Never let a real estate agent convince you an open house is necessary to sell a home.

Other Valuable Real Estate Advice You'll Love

Take a look at these additional resources to help make outstanding real estate decisions. A well informed buyer or seller is less prone to make mistakes.

About the author: Bill Gassett is a nationally recognized Real Estate leader who has been helping people buy and sell Metrowest Massachusetts real estate for the past thirty-two plus years. Bill has been one of the top RE/MAX Realtors in New England for the past decade.

In 2018 he was the #1 RE/MAX real estate agent in Massachusetts. His real estate advice has been featured on, CNBC, RIS Media, National Association of Realtors, Inman News, Placester, RESAAS, Credit Sesame and others.

Bill covers real estate sales in the following Massachusetts communities: Ashland, Bellingham, Douglas, Framingham, Franklin, Grafton, Holliston, Hopkinton, Hopedale, Medway, Mendon, Milford, Millbury, Millville, Natick, Northborough, Northbridge, Shrewsbury, Southborough, Sutton, Wayland, Westborough, Whitinsville, Worcester, Upton and Uxbridge MA.

Reach out for his advice anytime.

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Bill Gassett

One of the top RE/MAX agents in New England over the last decade plus. Providing exceptional real estate services to buyers and sellers in the Metrowest Massachusetts area including the following communities: Ashland, Bellingham, Douglas, Framingham, Franklin, Grafton, Holliston, Hopkinton, Hopedale, Medway, Mendon, Milford, Millbury, Millville, Northborough, Northbridge, Shrewsbury, Southborough, Sutton, Wayland, Westborough, Whitinsville, Worcester, Upton and Uxbridge MA.

See my real estate website at Maximum Real Estate Exposure - one of the most visited real estate sites in Massachusetts.

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