How To Maintain Your Privacy During An Open House:

It's the day of your open house and, in this market, that could mean your agent is expecting dozens of interested buyers to visit your home.  Your house is staged and tidy.  A large bowl of fake fruit sits on your kitchen counter.  The floors are scrubbed, the closets cleaned and you feel prepared for anything and excited at the prospect of offers on the horizon. 

Most good agents will request that owners and pets vacate the house during the open house in order to allow prospective buyers to feel comfortable looking carefully and even contemplating changes they might make if they were to purchase the home.  Your agent has advertised the open house and even brought some extra feature sheets, information on local schools and refreshments.  You know you are leaving your home in good hands.  Everything is perfect.  So what are you forgetting?

 Open houses are such a common step in the selling process that we often forget the fact that there will actually be strangers walking through our houses and looking at our things.   When a seller opens their home to showings, each buyer is accompanied by a licensed agent and the listing agent has a record of all visits.  The very nature of an open house, however, is to allow maximum exposure and so many of the visitors will be looking without their own agent.  A listing agent usually stands downstairs to greet guests and answer questions, but who is watching what happens upstairs?

I recently read a fantastic article in Real Estate Magazine on protecting sellers' privacy during open houses and showings.  Many sellers will not feel that all of these suggestions are necessary and some may seem obvious but I think every seller should at least consider them.  I don't know how many times I've seen calendars in houses during showings with vacation time blocked off.  Do you really want all the guests at your open house to know when your home is vacant?

I would add to the suggestions in the article that it is prudent to ensure that your agent is requesting that each guest sign in with first and last name as well as a home address and telephone number.  People tend to be more respectful when their identity is known.  Another good idea if you own a very large home or if your agent is expecting heavy traffic is to ask your agent if they have a colleague who can assist them by walking around and answering questions.  I also happen to think a one day open house that lasts two hours tends to generate more traffic than an open house that stretches an entire weekend.  Remember, other open house guests also serve to eliminate snooping behaviour.

Last but not least, plan, prepare and then RELAX.  You have hired a professional whom you trust so if you have any nagging concerns, allow them to set your mind at ease with their own security ideas.

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