A few years back, Saul asked the RealTalk community to create a list of tips for conducting an Open House. Many of these suggestions still apply today. If you are still doing Open Houses, are there new tips you could add?
Rules for a safe and effective Open House
Sometimes we take our expertise for granted. We assume what we know, everyone knows. Take an open house, what would be common sense for you may not be common sense to a homeowner…sometimes common sense is not so common.
If you were to create a list of those recommendations you would make to a seller the night before an open house, to have a safe and effective open house, what would be on that list? I will start with the easy ones:
1. Lock up your cash and valuables.
2. Lock up your prescription drugs.
Here are some more suggestions from Realtalkers:
- Ok, so I have two: 1. Don’t leave valuables in your car. 2. Keep your valuables on your person (i.e. keys in pocket), or out of site during the open house so you can’t be distracted from them.
- Two things that I always practice as a female agent are to keep my shoes on (in case I ever have to leave quickly) and I always wear pants. I always picture myself in a worst-case situation and I would want to make it as difficult as possible for an attacker to get at me and as easy as possible for me to get away.
- Another thing I always do is to let the neighbors know I am doing an open house, and to leave the back door or another alternative exit unlocked in case I feel threatened and am unable to leave via the front door. Lastly, I don’t wear my wedding rings or any other major valuables in the case that someone feels the urge to rob me. Some people disagree with this, but my goal is to minimize the motivation anyone might have to attack me.
- Besides many other precautions–I purchased mace that looks like a pen from my local Association store. It looks like any other pen and I carry it with me the entire time. I am just waiting for the time that I ask someone to sign in and they tell me the sign-in pen no longer works and can they use mine. Yikes!
- Have a checklist for sellers, and make sure that you include firearms & prescription Medicines in the items to be locked away. Firearms?!? Yes, people leave them in bedside tables, on dressers behind pictures, under the bed. Amazing, isn’t it?
On the safe part: Do not park in the driveway where you could be locked in. In gated communities with a guard at the gate, tell the guard when you expect to leave and, if you don’t, ask the guard to check on you.
- On the effective part: Advertise, advertise and advertise. You know the neighbors are coming so send them a letter invite them to bring their friends that they would like to have as neighbors
- Keep your car keys with you and have them in hand if someone is acting suspiciously or aggressively, that way, if your car is close enough, hit the car alarm button and the honking horn could deter a potential assailant, attract attention of the neighbors, passersby, etc. I’ve advised folks to keep car keys by their bedside for the same purpose but hadn’t thought of using them at open house.
- Seller should not cook anything with a strong odor (fish, garlic, etc.) the day before. (And ideally WILL have cooked something like bread or cookies RIGHT before.) Keep air fresheners and potpourri at a minimum for those sensitive to that sort of thing.
- Empty litter boxes and replace burnt out light bulbs.
Take pets to a friends place if they are annoying with a bark.
Sweep front door entry of leaves or use a blower on the driveway if excessive and the same for a patio.
- Safe – Bring a partner or keep the cell phone close-by with 911 or family member number ready on one button push. Keep customers in front of you when demonstrating the home. Keep your car keys with you and keep your finger on the alarm button on the fob.
- If you’re alone in the house and a visitor wants you to come down into the basement or up into the attic, it’s not a good idea. You politely refuse, stating that you are to remain on the main floor so that you will be available when someone else comes to the Open House.
- Old, but it works. Buy 2 frozen apple pies and bake them off one at a time and put out to cool on the counter. Also buy 2 pints of vanilla ice cream and put one pint in the freezer and one in the refrigerator. Now if the Open House is a bust then leave one pie and pint for the home owner. Take the second pair home. On the other hand if a hot buyer prospect comes in to the Open House and you want to take the buyer prospect, not working with another REALTOR, off the street give them one of the apple pies and the ice cream in the refrigerator to take home while you research the MLS for their needs. Now when you call they will be happy to hear from you.
- Saul, don’t forget “Lock up your children.” I had an open where the family stayed (bad idea) and their 5 year old daughter announced to a suspect couple, “Mommy picked up the mouse traps and put them away.”