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Take Safety Precautions For Real Estate Open Houses

Photo Credit: Contributed

IRVINGTON, N.Y. -- Selling a home seems like an easy process. List the house for sale with an agent, spruce it up, have buyers come over, it sells, you move.  

There are some dangers to an open house, or even a party, and owners should take precautions to protect themselves.

For starters, hire a reputable agent/agency.  Your first line of defense is the public face of your listing.  If you are conducting an open house, it is suggested that more than one agent be present to keep an eye on people coming and going.

Provide a sign-in sheet and check the identification of visitors to make sure the names provided match the identification.  Another possible safety measure is to stagger visitors entry into the home.  Provide a guided tour or limit the number of visitors in the house at any given time.  This controls the flow of people and makes the situation more easily monitored.

Here are some other tips:

  • Don’t Get Personal. Take down family photos, trophies, extracurricular awards, school awards, diplomas, and other honors, particularly if they’re your children’s awards that identify where they attend school or other activity locations.
  • It’s Not Over Until It’s Over. At the conclusion of the open house, have the agents/person(s) and yourself walk through the home together. Check attics, basements, closets, garages.  Also, it is important to make sure that all doors and windows (garage too) are locked.
  • Just Say No to Drugs. Not only are some medications highly sought after, but other medications will be taken simply because of opportunity and their value. Painkillers, anti-depressants and stimulants are prime targets. Store them away. Even over-the-counter cough medications that contain codeine should be safely stored.
  • There’s Gold in Them Hills. Secure jewelry and valuables in a safe and secure place. Also store valuable documents such as checkbooks (remember those?), credit card statements, banking account statements, 401K statements, pay stubs, electrical and utility bills, along with other financial and banking documents.
  • The Key is Key: Don't leave spare keys around. Garage keys (and spare openers), shed keys, summer home keys and car keys are targets for the opportunist.
  • Shut It Down. All sorts of personal information can be stored on our computers.  Do yourself a favor and shut your computer off.  The time it takes to for a computer to start up (even today’s rocket-fast computers) is too long for an opportunist.
  • Bottom Line. Nothing might happen. But why take the chance?  We all need to be aware and take precautions.  Opening your house to the public, whether it’s a party, event, or sale of your home, should be an enjoyable, carefree time.  Only with the proper planning and prevention can you truly relax and rest assured that your home is safe.

Brian Levine is the Brokerage Manager for Houlihan Lawrence’s Irvington and Ardsley offices.  A former litigation attorney and adjunct college communication professor, he can be reached at