I’m nervous about strangers coming to the house for open homes


Q: There seem to have been a lot of burglaries in my neighbourhood lately and I’m nervous about strangers coming to the house for open homes when we put it on the market. What can we do to make sure it’s safe?

A: It’s completely natural to feel a little anxious before viewings or open homes – you want your property to look attractive to potential buyers, but not so appealing that they start helping themselves to your belongings.  As in most circumstances, a bit of common sense goes a long way.

To start with, you should feel completely confident about your real estate agent. Licensed real estate agents are bound by the Code of Conduct, which means they have a clear responsibility to safeguard your property. If you have any concerns about holding open homes, or having viewings of your property, it’s important to discuss these with the agent so you can both feel comfortable. They can advise you on any precautions to take as part of preparing the property for sale.

When you’re getting ready to put the property on the market, the New Zealand Police National Crime Prevention Centre recommends checking with your insurance provider so you know what your policy covers. Make sure you have enough insurance to cover any potential property damage, or any valuables. Let trusted neighbours know the dates of any upcoming open homes or viewings, and ask them to keep an eye out for anything unusual.

The Police also suggest that you store any valuables well out of sight before you hold your first open home, or make the property available for viewing. The most commonly stolen items include money, jewellery, office equipment, clothing, electronics, and firearms. Photograph and record serial numbers (these can also be uploaded to the SNAP website: www.snap.org.nz). It can be helpful to make a checklist to streamline the process and ensure you don’t overlook anything. It’s a good idea to hide your calendars – visitors to your property don’t need to know when you plan to be away, or where you’re planning to go. Put away family photos, and lock away any passports, spare keys, financial statements and credit cards. Store any alcohol and prescription drugs out of sight and preferably out of the reach of children.

On the day of the open home, it is best to wait at the property until the agent arrives so you can officially pass the security responsibility to them. Be sure to walk the agent through the property and orient them as needed. Ask them if you can help them close up at the end of the open home. Together you can check the property, including any storage areas and outside spaces. Double check all the locks on windows and doors to make sure they are secured as they were before the viewing started.

Selling a home can be a stressful process, so it makes sense to minimise any hassles wherever possible. If you’ve taken all the sensible precautions, you shouldn’t need to worry about holding an open home.

Kevin Lampen-Smith is the chief executive of the Real Estate Agents Authority (REAA), the independent government agency that regulates the New Zealand real estate industry. If you have a question about buying or selling property, send it to info@reaa.govt.nz
For independent advice on selling property, visit www.sellingahome.reaa.govt.nz.