Open House Security Tips for Realtors
In a perfect world, realtors would be able to hold open houses without any concerns about theft or other crimes. Unfortunately, that is just not the world we live in. When holding open houses for clients, it is crucial to take steps to secure the premises to ensure that unscrupulous types don’t take off with the homeowner’s belongings. The best real estate agents understand that many potential homeowners don’t want to be kept under the watchful eye of a realtor and may prefer to check out the house privately. That’s why top notch real estate agents who understand this, know how to educate their clients about things that they can do to ensure optimal security while their homes are being shown. Brush up on a few important tips to ensure that your open houses go off without a hitch.
Keep these tips in mind to help your clients have safe, secure, productive open houses:
1. Require Attendees to Sign In
There are many great reasons to have a sign-up sheet at an open house. From a marketing standpoint, it’s an excellent thing to do. It’s also an effective way to bolster security–as long as you require visitors to show photo IDs. Some folks are likely to be a little put out by that, but gently remind them that it is for security purposes and that their personal information will be kept private. There are a variety of neat apps realtors can use to make their job easier, one of which allows them to collect signatures, emails, and other pertinent contact information.
2. Don’t Show a Home Alone
Never host an open house entirely by yourself. Even if you have a black belt in karate or are otherwise adept at self-defense, it is just too risky. You can’t count on multiple prospective buyers to be there at all times, so enlist the help of someone else to be there with you. This may be one of the homeowners, or it may be another real estate professional. In addition to making the event safer, having someone else there will give you an extra pair of hands–and an extra set of eyes for keeping an eye on what’s happening.
3. Hide Spare Keys
In many homes, spare keys are kept handy for convenience. They are often tucked into junk drawers, hung from hooks on the wall or simply left out on coffee tables. A clever thief is bound to spot random sets of keys that are lying around and can easily grab them in the hopes of gaining easy access to the home later. Ask homeowners if they have any keys lying around the house and urge them to round them all up and tuck them away in a lock box, safe or so me other secure area.
4. Conceal Personal Information
In addition to having to worry about theft in general during an open house, you watch out for the possibility of identity theft. A single bank statement, credit card statement or other document is often all that a thief needs to steal someone’s identity, so it is of the utmost importance to have such sensitive information completely out of sight during an open house. Have homeowners go over their home offices to tidy up paperwork. If possible, have them lock their sensitive documents in a filing cabinet. That way, they won’t have to worry about their paperwork falling into the wrong hands.
5. Hide and Lock Up Valuables
Most homes are riddled with valuable “snatch and grab” items like jewelry and pricey electronic devices. They’re tempting for thieves, including ones who weren’t planning to steal, because they are small, expensive and easy to conceal. Needless to say, such items should be hidden before the open house begins. They shouldn’t just be tucked into a dresser drawer, though. Advise homeowners to use a safe or lock box for them or to remove them from the property entirely.
6. Hide Prescription Medications
During open houses, prospective buyers tend to look in every nook and cranny, which means that they typically open all cabinets, closets, drawers and cupboards. This includes the medicine cabinet in the bathroom, which is where prescription medications are often stored. Sadly, many prescription medications are abused recreationally, and many fetch top dollar on the street. In other words, they are popular items to steal, so they should be locked away before the event begins. That way, whoever actually needs them won’t have to be on edge about their medication going missing.
7. Lock Computers
This is more of a modern-day problem, but in many homes, there are computers, tablets, laptops, smartphones and other expensive devices lying around. You may not be able to lock every last one away, since the homeowner may actually need to use their devices during the event. Therefore, make sure that all devices are secured with a password or passcode. The goal is to make it as difficult as possible for a random person to walk away with a working device. If they can’t unlock it, they can’t access secure personal files or resell the item–it is now essentially worthless.
8. Do a Final Walk-Through
When the open house is over, walk through the entire house to make sure that everything is order. While you’re at it, check all doors and windows to make sure that none were surreptitiously unlocked during the event. A thief may sneakily unlock an outside window or door in the hopes of returning after dark to rob the place. Since you may be uncertain about what goes where, have the homeowner walk through as well. With any luck, everything will be exactly where it should, and you will be able to walk away knowing that you held a perfectly safe, secure open house.
While it’s important to keep security in mind when hosting an open house, it’s also important to remember that the vast majority of people aren’t criminals. There’s no need to be nervous or on edge while hosting such an event as long as you have taken the necessary steps to keep the premises safe.