An open house can be a great marketing tool, but it also means exposing your home and family to countless strangers. Don’t assume that every person who visits your home is an earnest, potential homebuyer. It’s important to take security seriously. Here are some common security measures that can pull double-duty, keeping you and your family safe while enhancing your home’s marketability:
* Remove personal items such as family photographs, your children’s artwork, calendars that include daily routines and other items that may reveal the names of your family members or everyday life. Removing or packing away these items will not only enhance your privacy, it will also help keep the potential homebuyer focused on your home and not your family. A house that’s been depersonalized shows better because it’s easier for the buyer to visualize living in the house.
* Identity theft is a growing problem, so be sure to remove or lock up all credit cards, bills, health insurance information and anything else that contains personal information like social security numbers and bank account numbers. Of course, this step removes clutter from your counters, maintaining visual appeal.
* Remove or lock up jewelry, cash and other valuables; firearms and other weapons; and all prescription medication.
* Make sure the house is well-lit and keep all interior and exterior walkways clear of clutter and other debris.
* After each showing, take a thorough walk-through of your house and make sure all of the doors and windows are shut and locked, and that no items or valuables are missing.
In addition to safeguarding your property and identity, there are precautions you should take to protect yourself if you are present during an open house. Ideally, your real estate professional will be representing you during the open house, so that potential home buyers feel comfortable snooping around, opening cupboards and speaking freely about the home. However, if you do find that you are in the home alone, or are selling your home on your own, consider a few tips from the pros:
* Never turn your back on a potential buyer. Instead, let the buyer lead you through the house. This allows you to watch the buyer and avoid becoming cornered or trapped.
* Employ the buddy system. If you must show the house yourself, enlist the help of family or friends. This rule is especially important if the home is located in an isolated area.
* Have a visitor roster and make sure everyone who tours your home signs it and includes their phone number and address. This will help you keep track of who is viewing your home.
* Know and have a plan for the fastest escape route for each part of your home.
The open house process is just one step toward selling your home. A real estate professional can provide you with a fresh set of eyes and will tour your home and point out safety measures you may have overlooked as well as answer other questions you may have about selling your home.