An open house is a great way to get foot traffic into a home that’s for sale. But, there are safety issues. If your home is For Sale By Owner (FSBO), these 10 safety tips will protect you and your financial investment.
For Sale By Owner
When you’re selling your own home, you have to be on alert as you never know who is walking through your door.
While most open houses are uneventful, there are the occasional ones that make the headlines. That’s why Realtors take safety classes. You have to think about safety because criminals see open houses as an opportunity. Nothing may happen during the open house, but showing your home to strangers may open you up to problems down the road or the day of the open house.
With an open house, you have to worry about your safety and the possessions in your home. As the host at an open house, you just can’t be in every room and with every buyer.
10 Open House Safety Tips
Require visitors to sign in
When you’re welcoming visitors into your home, ask them to sign in with their name, phone number, and email address.
That helps you keep track of who visits, and provides you a list of buyers to follow-up with after the open house.
The National Association of Realtors even suggests writing down a physical description of visitors and their car and license plate if you’re selling your own home and holding your own open house.
If you feel comfortable, ask for a driver’s license.
If you’re showing your home outside of an open house, ask for the buyer’s name and research them before the appointment. Ask for a pre-approval letter and their driver’s license. That way you know as much as possible about who is visiting your home.
Have a buddy
If you can, show the home with someone else. That offers you an extra layer of protection. Plus, it allows you to watch buyers more carefully as they tour your home.
Plus, most buyers don’t look at homes alone. So, you’ll always be outnumbered if you’re alone.
Be smart. Don’t go it alone when you choose For Sale By Owner.
Share your location
In addition to enabling location services so you can track your cell phone if it’s stolen, share your location with friends and family.
With the iPhone, you can do this in your settings.
Plus, location sharing allows your friends or family members to use “Find My iPhone” to find your phone if it’s stolen.
You enable this by going to your location sharing settings. Then click share your location and choose a contact. Turn off the location sharing feature after the open house.
With an Android phone, login to your Google Contacts. Open the Google Maps app, tap the menu and location sharing. You can choose how long to share your location and the people with whom you want to share it.
You can also use third-party apps like Glympse. As the name says, it gives friends a “glimpse” of your location. You can set the amount of time that you share your location.
CNET breaks down several apps that also allow you to share your location.
Let your friends know you shared your location, and have them check on you from time to time during the open house. It shows your visitors you’ve taken extra safety steps, and it helps you feel safe.
Point out features of your home
If you have two people in the home, it offers better personal safety plus you can keep an eye on visitors more closely.
You can even offer to give personal tours of the home so that you can point out the features! If you do this, direct the visitor through your home. It’s safer to follow a stranger rather than lead them. Plus, this helps the buyer feel like they’re still exploring on their own.
Some buyers like to explore a home on their own. They want space so they can openly talk about the house. In that case, walk behind them at a distance. Tell them you’re nearby in case they have any questions. You know it’s also to keep an eye on them.
It’s natural for buyers to open cabinets and closets, so they see a lot of your home. Keeping a watchful eye prevents someone from grabbing something and making it their own.
Remove or hide any valuables in the home, especially jewelry. It’s easy to grab and throw in a pocket, or your purse so keep it out of reach.
Out of sight means out of mind!
Think of anything with personal information on it as a valuable too. That includes mail and bills.
If an open house visitor has to look for something, they’re less likely to take it. Especially if you have two people in the home and one is watching the buyer from afar.
Take medicine, especially painkillers, out of the cabinets. Many people are addicted to painkillers, and people have been known to steal them from open houses. Prescription drug abuse is a big problem; often with people, you wouldn’t suspect.
Alert your neighbors
Let’s face it – neighbors are nosy! Some more than others. Homeowners are protective of their neighborhood, so they’re naturally curious when something is going on. Let your neighbors know you’re having an open house, and ask them to keep an eye out for suspicious cars or activity during the open house. They’ll probably like being nosy for the day.
In fact, invite your neighbors to the open house. That will provide another set of eyes and ears to make sure everything runs smoothly. Plus, it exposes your home to more people something you need when you choose FSBO.
Keep your car keys and cell phone nearby
While your home is the focus of the open house, pay attention to where you park your car. Make sure it’s in a location that’s easy to access in case of an emergency. Keep your keys handy, preferably in your pocket or a nearby area that you, not a thief, can grab!
Keep your cell phone within arms reach at all times. Perhaps put it in a pocket, so it’s handy in case of an emergency. Disable passwords on the phone to make it easier to access in case of an emergency.
Have an escape route
Before you open your doors for an open house, plan your escape route. Keep all the doors unlocked, so it’s easier to escape.
Open the curtains and turn on the light
Open the curtains, so it’s easy for neighbors to keep an eye on your home. If anything strange happens, it’ll be easier for someone to see the commotion or your calls for help.
Also, turn on the lights, so it’s easy to see inside your home.
If you choose For Sale By Owner, be smart about your surroundings. If you tried it for awhile and didn’t get a buyer, you can always hire a Realtor later. Hire one with experience and marketing prowess. Here’s a cheat sheet – the steps you can take to unlock the power of a Realtor!