Things To Never Leave Out During An Open House
Thinking about selling your house? Planning on having an open house to encourage more buyers to view your property? Most sellers think having an open house is part of the selling process. Whether or not you should have an open house is a decision that should be carefully considered between you and your real estate agent. Like we all know, open houses have got a bad rep over the years and most agents think they are not necessary. One thing that should be careful is if your agent owns a stellar online presence to market the property which would do better than an open house.
While notwithstanding, open houses can actually be beneficial for the first week. An open house will call the interest of more buyers, get the workout, and will obviously call more agents to visit. There are good reasons why you should have an open house but that being said, if you are going to have an open house, make sure to clear the environment for numerous showings. Open house means putting a lot of trust in the hands of your agent, visitors will have a lot of alone time in our home, with your stuff, with your stuff exposed and they can do what they like. If you are going to have an open house, you can start by removing or hiding things that visitors are likely to have an interest in.
Make sure to tuck these 10 things away during an open house.
- Your Personal Documents: Let’s begin with the most obvious. Something containing your full name and a bunch of numbers such as a social security card, credit card or a checkbook. Get all these stored in a different location like an office or storage unit. You’ll soon be moving anyway, so those things will have to move with you. If you don’t think an offsite location is an option, hide them in a nondescript box in your attic, or somewhere it would be hard to find by strangers or access without permission.
- Pets and their Stuff: Not everyone is a pet lover. Having pets around the place during an open house is absolutely a bad idea. First of all, the pet may not be familiar with the presence of all these strange faces which may highly impact their behavior. What’s next, the responsibility of your pets shouldn’t be in the hands of your real estate agent. Even though you love your dog or cat, always remember how it might impact a stranger walking through the home. There’s have been cases where buyers walked out of a property because there was a loose pet. Remember you so badly want to sell your home, and it needs to be welcoming to all at all times. They need to feel comfortable in the home and imagine themselves living there. Get rid of all dog crates, cat carriers, little box, or litter box. Remove all these from an open house as it may be unappealing to a buyer. Most people have allergies to dogs and cats.
- Prescriptions and Drugs: This needs to be on the top of your list when planning to get an open house. your medicine cabinet or your nightstand will be the first place a thief will visit in search of these. Theft of prescription drugs is becoming a routine across the country. Unless you are having an open house with someone is each room, it is hard for a real estate agent to monitor an entire house at the same time most especially when multiple people come to check the home. Prescription and even over the counter medication are something thieves may be interested in.
- Firearms: Weapons or firearms should be removed from the property. Taking the risk of leaving firearms anywhere around the property is an invitation for disaster. Don’t leave weapons and ammunition out. Most homeowners have large safes somewhere in the home. And most of these safes where important things are kept are mostly found in the master bedroom and thieves are aware of that. Unless the safe is concealed, it is recommended you remove it from the property as a whole. Most people attending open houses give access to someone who might just want to case the property and find out the location of a safe.
- Jewelry: pieces of jewelry should be removed and safely secured! A thief would find it very easy to pick up a piece of jewelry and put it in a pocket never to be seen again. Jewelry is one of the greatest accessories that attract theft. Thieves are highly attracted to locations where jewelies are kept. They are small and can be easily concealed if someone decides to walk out with them. Even if you store jewelries in a small box, be sure to keep it somewhere safe if they are valuable to you.
- Mail Addresses in your Name: What’s so important about mail addresses or other identity documents in your name that shouldn’t be left out in the house during an open house. The last thing you want happening is witnessing a potential going through a bill in the homeowner’s name, checking them out and knowing all about who they are.
- Lap Top Computers, Cell Phones, and Tablets: These devices play a very important role in our lives and living them around during an open house won’t be a good idea. Be sure to get them to safe storage. Consider even cell phone chargers you leave around as they are expensive to replace and easy to pick and put in a pocket. Devices like Tablets and iPads that can be easily picked should be stored and out of sight. For more advanced security options, you might consider having security cameras installed to monitor the exterior of the home as well as stick up cameras for the interior. Moreover, all parties need to be informed about the presence of security cameras if you intend using them during an open house. This can be easily done by a sign stating that all parties are monitored by surveillance at the entrance while the real estate agent might also inform people entering the home.
- Space Heaters, Fans and more: Such items that you use for your daily life might unwittingly send out the wrong impression to potential buyers. (Wrong as in “you don’t want to live here” for some reason). Hide the following items before your open house: space heater (implies the house is too cold), multiple fans (the house is too hot), the baseball bat next to your bed (unsafe neighborhood), and even those foam earplugs next to your bed (your home is too loud at night.
- Delicious Food in your Fridge: It’s obvious, no one would come across delicious food and let it pass without having a taste. There have been numerous cases where open house guests go to a refrigerator and help themselves to snacks, cookies, and soda without missing a beat. They always target the quick grab-and-go items. You always have to plan accordingly. An important strategy to try out is to organize your fridge nicely so it is more apparent when someone has been rummaging around. And try to put things that people will want to steal in places are harder to find. It’s always a great idea to be a good host and leave out some refreshments for your guests. A cold bottle of water and some snacks is always a nice gesture, most especially when selling during the hot summer periods.
- Political Signs: You never know who’s coming to buy your home, and you need to care so much about their interest. A single political sign might just be a turn-off to some buyers, maybe even a large percentage of buyers in your area. This is why having a political sign in your area is never a good idea when selling. In today’s political landscape, it is important that homeowners put away any political stuff away before an open house. Keep your home neutral and welcoming to individuals of every political background to maximize your chances of a quick sale. Politics has never been more contentious. Politics and real estate do not mix together. The sign in the yard might just seam an obvious problem. Make sure there no other signs scattered throughout the home where buyers might see them. Checkout stickers, magnets, and fliers in a pile of other documents. Any trace of these might lead to an awkward moment where a potential buyer decides to stand on principle and not buy your home.
Preparing your home for the market is usually a daunting task must especially when it has to do with one of the greatest transactions you’ll ever handle. Leaving out any of the above-mentioned items can be an invitation to theft. No one wants to be a victim of this. You want to be sure your home remains secured after every showing and open house. The most common items stolen during this period as mentioned above are jewelries, watches, and prescription drugs. Removing these items reduce your risk of being a victim. Always remember, open houses are a great way to hasten the sales process. More buyers and agents get to see your home the moment you get it listed on the market.
About The Author
Geoff Southworth is the creator of RealEstateInfoGuide.com, the site that helps new homeowners, investors, and homeowners-to-be successfully navigate the complex world of property ownership. Geoff is a real estate investor of 8 years has had experience as a manager of a debt-free, private real estate equity fund, as well as a Registered Nurse in Emergency Trauma and Cardiac Cath Lab Care. As a result, he has developed a unique “people first, business second” approach to real estate.
This article has been reviewed by our editorial board and has been approved for publication in accordance with our editorial policy.