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The basics of securing a home after an open house might seem obvious enough: After you’re sure the last buyer has walked out the front door, lock it! But so often we become complacent when we shouldn’t — and we can’t afford to.
While we certainly must remember that our own safety is important, the safety of those who live inside is also a big part of our responsibility when locking up after an open house.
When closing out an open house, you must treat it as though you are opening the house, but in reverse. When opening a house, we want it to look bright, open and inviting.
Locking up might seem like a cold shutdown, but fully securing the interior and exterior — while also being mindful of aspects like leaving necessary lights on — is also an exercise in ensuring ongoing security and livability.
Here are a few helpful steps you can take to ensure a property is fully secure before leaving:
1. Follow the route
Make it a habit of walking the same path in your open houses. If you always make right-hand turns from the front door throughout the home, you are less likely to forget to check a room before leaving.
Follow the same route, if possible, when walking around the exterior of the house.
By having a consistent routine, you’ll be more likely to catch anything that feels out of sorts.
2. Be aware
When you open your open house, look around each room, and observe its key features. As you walk around, look and make sure nothing looks out of place.
Walk into each bathroom and closet to make sure they are clear and left as you found them, door open or closed. Check the garage and basements as well as the laundry and utility rooms — even “mudrooms” if you have them.
Walk the exterior patios and yard to make sure things are as they should be in every place.
3. Check every gateway
Each door and window latch should be locked, unless the owner has advised otherwise. Double-check knobs, and make sure to engage lock handles on doors.
Make sure all interior doors and closet doors are closed when you leave, just as they were when you arrived for open house. Combination entry box covers on garages and exterior should be closed.
Vacant homes are just as important, if not more so, to lock up than those with folks still living in them.
In a vacant house, pay especially close attention to windows and doors. Don’t forget that someone can turn a latch, which is often all one needs to get in. The gates surrounding the perimeter should also be verifiably locked.
4. Consult a checklist
Make an easy checklist to provide yourself with another way to ensure you’ve covered all bases after an open house. Add pre- and post-open house procedures to help you remember all of the details — especially handy on those days when you are super busy. You can even have Siri remind you of all the things to check or consult your Google Assistant.
The best way to ensure that you are doing the best you can (and what the owners prefer) is to be proactive. Prior to your first open house, walk through with the owners or their representative.
Ask questions and take notes about security and safety so you know what opens and doesn’t, what is to remain open or closed, and any other pertinent details. There is much to be learned with someone who knows the house well. The only unanswered question is the one you forgot to ask.
These few simple things can make the difference. Safety today is more important than it was yesterday.