Do you have any tips on preparing for an open house?

With spring season underway, we may notice more signs for open houses. This is quite common as many people prefer to list their respective properties for sale during the warmer months.

If you too are selling your home and will be holding an open house, please remember that safety and security are paramount.

When you really think about it, we tell our kids not to speak to strangers. However, when we do an open house, we are not only letting them into our home, but putting up signs encouraging them to do it.

Individuals you don’t know will have access to walk throughout your home, and observe the various spaces from top to bottom. So, it is wise to take some necessary precautions and have extra safeguards in place.

A great place to start is hiring a real estate agent. Seek their advice on how to make the open house a comfortable and smooth experience for everyone.

As well, I recommend that you take the following steps to protect your valuable items prior to the open house:

    • Remove anything that has sentimental value or is expensive from the property.
    • Store small items (such as portable electronics and jewelry) in a secure place like a safe or locked cabinet. Your nightstand or desk drawer don’t count.
    • Remove all prescription medications, including those in medicine cabinets, dressers or nightstands.

Besides protecting your physical items, it is also key to be mindful of your personal information.

I’ve written previously about how to protect yourself from identity theft and an open house is one place that thieves can target to collect your data. To make sure that does not happen, please remove all bills, bank statements, credit cards, passports and any other document from the premises. If, for any reason, you cannot remove them from the property during the open house, then please have them locked away in a secure place.

Tablets, laptops and desktops can also often contain your personal information So, I would suggest removing or locking them away as well.

I encourage you to discuss the details of the open house with your agent. For example, you might ask them to keep track of everyone who enters the property by having each visitor show their identification and complete a sign-in form, before they begin their tour.

You can also communicate any preferences you may have like people taking their shoes off at the entrance, or not taking any photos.

Additionally, your agent can also limit the number of visitors that are in your home at a given time so that it’s easier to manage. Alternatively, they can bring a colleague so that all visitors are escorted as they tour the property.

That being said, the goal of an open house of course is ultimately to find a buyer for your home. So, before you list your home, assess if any repairs are needed. Depending on your budget, you may also want to consider hiring a staging company.

If you decide not to get your home professionally staged, make sure that the interior and exterior are clean and tidy, and any personal photos or memorabilia are removed.

All the best!

If you have a question for Joe about the home buying or selling process, please email

This column is for general information purposes only and is not meant as legal or professional advice on real estate transactions.

Joseph Richer is Registrar of the Real Estate Council of Ontario (RECO). He is in charge of the administration and enforcement of all rules that govern real estate professionals in Ontario. You can find more tips at, follow on Twitter @RECOhelps or on YouTube at

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