Open houses are an enduring part of the real estate ecosystem around the world, and they give buyers a non-committal opportunity to see the home and interact with the agent if they have a couple of questions. Sellers like it as an additional marketing opportunity to generate buzz on a listing. REALTORS® like open houses of course because it allows them to meet real-live buyers who have some level of interest in the neighborhood and find themselves at some point in the buying process. Win-Win-Win.
Although the benefits of open houses in marketing are debated by new and experienced REALTORS® alike, the fact that they will endure is unchanged, so let's chat about some things to be aware of regarding your safety while conducting them.
Everyone Welcome…It goes without saying that most of your open houses are going to be just you, a tray of cookies and Netflix for the slow moments. Be aware that anyone, literally anyone, could walk through that door since the house is ‘open’. The assumption that everyone coming to the home has pure buyer intentions is a good one but possibly misplaced. Keep your radar on for anything out of the ordinary in action, talk, or behavior, and always keep a clear line of exit from the property.
Cell phone as a lifelineAlthough you can use that cell phone to open the lockbox, watch reruns of Friends, and take selfies in the home with yourself and your delicious cookie tray for social media, watch your battery power. That device also makes calls. I know it’s a novel concept, but it may be necessary in a panic situation to reach out to someone for help, especially in modern times where landlines in a home are much less common. You may need medical help for a visitor, police for an actual problem, or a lifeline call made if you feel uncomfortable or threatened in some way by a visitor. Don’t forget in most cases your cell phone is your only connection to the world when you are sitting alone in an empty house.
Sign placement and collectionI have seen some of you, secret agents out there dashing across 3 lanes of traffic to place or collect an open house sign from just the perfect spot. This is an unnecessary risk for sure, but even in general, the placement of open house signs involves stopping in traffic with your blinkers on, throwing your door open into traffic, running to place the sign while the car idles away, all while you are late for the open house. How about setting up your signs the night before, or giving yourself an extra half an hour for that task so you can do it safely and be aware of your surroundings.
Make sure someone knows where you areYour marketing, social media, and signage all tell the public where you are for the purpose of the open house, but did you tell any loved ones where you will be and for how long? Tell your spouse or partner the specifics about your open house time and address so they know. No spouse or partner? Tell a friend or co-worker. Better yet, call your mom. You know she would love to hear from you… She never hears from you…
September is REALTOR® Safety Month. Visit the National Association of REALTORS® for more safety tips and tricks.
Provincial Practice Advisor
Bryan has many years of experience in the real estate industry including over 10 years as a former broker in the Edmonton Region.
Email: firstname.lastname@example.orgPhone: 403-209-3619