Open House or ‘Show Days’ have been proven to be a valuable way of introducing your home to prospective buys. But unfortunately, this also means that you could be unknowingly opening your doors to potential burglars who look to take advantage of the situation.
There is safety in numbers, as Charnel Hattingh (national marketing and communications manager at Fidelity ADT) explains.
“A good place to start is to have someone on duty with you to manage events on Show Day. It gives you the ease of knowing that no visitors or prospective buyers are wandering through the home unmonitored, and that there is someone who can assist if you something goes wrong.”
Hattingh said estate agents need to be security conscious and need to discuss the option of putting security systems in place before a Show Day. This, she adds, is not only to protect the sellers’ valuables and property, but to ensure the agents are safe as well.
“We advise sellers to lock all their valuables away and to ensure that your agent understands your concerns regarding the safety and the security of your property on the day. Posting a guard on the premises and giving the agent access to a panic button is also a good idea.”
While you cannot plan for every eventuality, Hattingh said the following pointers will help to discourage thieves from taking advantage of the situation.
When it comes to preparing your home for Show Day:
- If someone stands in for your agent on the Show Day, insist on meeting them and explaining arrangements for your home.
- If there is a panic button, ensure that the agent has access to it, along with your private security provider’s emergency number.
- Alert your private security service provider that your home will be on show and ask them to stop by during the afternoon to check that everything is in order.
- Do not leave spare keys for the home (for back, garage or patio doors) hanging on hooks that can be reached.
- Always lock away valuables that can easily fit into a handbag or pocket. Remember that drawers and bathroom cabinets can be opened and rifled through quickly, so remember to check that they do not contain valuable items.
- Put away larger items of equipment that are not instrumental in showing off your home to stop criminals thinking they might have to return later when no one is home.
- Open curtains and blinds or switch on lights in each room to discourage would-be thieves from untoward activity.
There are also precautions for agents or owners who supervise on Show Day:
- If possible, position yourself where you can see prospective buyers’ vehicles as they arrive and make a note of their registration numbers, the make and model of the car.
- Don’t be shy to ask your visitors to stay with you while you walk through the home together. This will avoid a situation where one person wanders off unsupervised during the viewing.
- While you are conducting a viewing, do not leave the front entrance of the home open. It is important to check that intercoms, buzzers and doorbells are in good working order.
- Consider a Show Day where you encourage “by appointment” viewings. This will avoid overlap between groups of visitors.
- If visitors do arrive while you are talking to someone, encourage them to fill in the visitor’s book or take a look at the garden and outdoor facilities to buy some time.
- Ask your security company if they offer any special mobile panic button service, which you can keep with you when on duty at a show house.