While it might not be the first thing on your mind when setting up for an open house, it is important to ensure that you have things set up for a safe, secure environment. Most people focus on what the property looks like and what kind of offers they might pull after the open house, but there are some security and legal issues to consider as well.
It’s possible to face injury, theft, or even property damage during this event. If you haven’t put any time into protecting the property, it could be a costly day for everyone involved.
Follow these tips to ensure that you are thoroughly prepared for your upcoming open house inspections.
#1: Secure Valuables
If the property that will be open to the public contains any valuable belongings, make sure that these are properly secured before anyone is able to come into the property. Otherwise, you might face unexpected property theft. Removing any items of significant value, whether that is financial or sentimental, ensures that nothing will be taken.
Additionally, put business documents and other personal identifying documents in a place where they cannot be seen, photographed, or taken.
Pete Evering, a property management expert with Utopia Management recommends that, when showing a property currently occupied by a tenant, you should make sure to let them know these tips. Additionally, do not leave any touring renters alone in the property without you as this could put your tenants’ belongings at risk.
#2: Ensure Safe Walkways
Whether you are a homeowner selling your house or a landlord showing a property to a potential tenant, be sure that the property is safe to tour. Should someone get injured at the property during an open house inspection, you may be liable for damages and legal costs.
Anyone who enters your property should reasonably expect that they will not be hurt while there. It is your responsibility to create this type of safe environment.
Personal injury claims might not be something you are worried about, but these claims can be very costly if you do not have the right insurance protections in place. In addition to prepping the space for safe touring, ensure that your homeowner’s or landlord’s insurance policy includes the necessary protections.
Check these areas in particular for safety concerns before holding an open house:
Uneven or broken floorboards
Clean up slippery surfaces
Remove potential hazards
#3: Steps For Accident Protection
Even if you and any visitors are reasonably careful at the property, it is possible that damages could occur. Simple things like a broken door handle or a scratched wall may happen during an open house inspection.
While small, these types of damages can add up. Thankfully, some insurance plans include provisions that will cover these types of damages. Before holding an open house, check your policy to find out what is and what is not covered during an open house to get an idea of what to expect.
Before you hold the open house inspection, make sure to photograph each of the rooms in detail. These can be helpful when filing a claim should any incidents occur.
#4: Follow The One Room Policy
When giving a tour of the property, let the visitors know that you would like to stay in the same rooms together at all times. If people come in a group, they should stick together rather than splitting up to explore the house on their own.
By ensuring that you are in the same room as the visitors, you can limit the risk of damages, injury, and theft all at once. By being present, you can keep an eye on any developing situations and handle things on the fly.
#5: Work With Your Agent
Are you selling your property with an agent? If so, they will likely be running the open houses for you. Agents (like us!) are very experienced in doing these types of inspections, so they should have a good plan for how to mitigate any risk factors.
However, that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t express any concerns that you have with your agent. They can help you decide how to proceed, what to remove from the property for security, and if any safety issues need to be addressed. Agents are an invaluable resource; use them.
#6: Make Sure To Lock Up
When thieves come to an open house, they are typically looking for easy access points and will not actually steal anything during the event. Instead, they might unlatch a window or prop something open for easy entry later on.
After all tours are complete, make sure to do a thorough check of all windows and doors. Is everything closed and locked? Are all the locks functioning properly? Checking this only takes a few extra minutes, but it can save you a lot of money.