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Be safe with open house marketing

MAIN IMAGE: Adrian Goslett, Regional Director and CEO of RE/MAX SA; Ernst van Zyl, Campaign Officer for Strategy and Content at Afriforum

Staff Writer

With crime being rife in South Africa property practitioners should be aware of the dangers  surrounding open house marketing.

Hosting a show house is one of the best tools in an estate agent’s arsenal. It brings out the competitor in any buyer, which could ultimately lead to higher sales prices. Unfortunately, it does also come with a degree of security risk. Both sellers and agents will need to be extra vigilant when hosting an open house.

Regional Director and CEO of RE/MAX of Southern Africa, Adrian Goslett says practitioners using this method of marketing should keep a variety of safety tips in mind.

“Keep a detailed record of attendee names including their contact numbers, and emails as well as the location, date, and time of the show house. Share this info with the office administrator in a cloud-based file, so somebody has a real-time record of who you were last seen with. Be sure to follow POPIA best practices when recording this information and get permission from the attendees before you use the provided information for further marketing purposes,” he advises.

Closed doors

As inviting as an open-door sounds, it could be a security risk. Rather lock the gate behind you and put up an inviting sign informing the buyers to knock or ring the doorbell to be let in one at a time. Only allow a buyer to enter the home once they have completed the attendance register in full.

Some sellers are also uncomfortable with the idea of letting anyone and everyone into their homes. Doing an invitation-only show house, with a smaller group, is the best compromise. To ensure only serious buyers attend, ask your potential buyers to share their pre-approval with you to prove that they can afford to purchase the property.

Apart from the dangers of open house sales activities, property hijacking is also on the increase in the country and an open house situation could be a straightforward way for perpetrators of this crime. Says Ernst van Zyl, project manager for Afriforum, who has just published a manual that advises the public on their rights regarding property hijacking, exactly how to prevent this rising problem as well as how victims should react in these situations.

“In South Africa, the hijacking of residential and other types of properties is on the rise and organised syndicates have mobilised in the face of state inaction and outdated and impractical legislation. Organised property hijacking syndicates force their way into occupied or vacant properties, forcibly evict tenants or owners, and replace them with tenants of their choice. Recent incidents especially occurred in Pretoria East while the owners were on holiday. In Cape Town there has recently also been an increase in property hijackings.

“It is worrying that the South African Police Service most of the time are unwilling or just not equipped to act accordingly to cases of invasion of property, because of the lack of resources. It is therefore better for property owners and practitioners to position themselves in such a way as to prevent property from being invaded or hijacked. This is of course more cost-effective than paying the legal costs associated with obtaining an eviction order,” he explained

Goslett also said when showing a home, it is a good idea for the practitioner to switch on their  phones’ location sharing and broadcast the ongoing location with an office administrator, close friend, or family member. One can always switch it off afterwards, but in the meantime, it could keep them safe by letting people know where they are.

During showing

Instruct the homeowner to store valuables in a safe beforehand and to put away any personal items, such as letters or bank statements, to avoid any chances of identity theft. Make sure that you walk behind visitors when showing them the property. This not only will allow you to point out key features of the home without getting in the way, but it will also keep you safe because your back is never turned to the visitors and any suspicious activity will be seen immediately.

Self-defence

Carrying self-defence tools, such as pepper spray and a taser, and taking self-defence classes would be a great addition towards your protection. Another little helpful tool is a personal panic button. You could get one from a security company that comes with an app, but there are also many free apps available to download that are easy to use.

Getaway vehicle

“As a general safety precaution, your car should always be in good running condition and have at least half a tank of fuel. The last thing you would want to do is not be able to flee from an unsafe situation. Make sure your car is checked regularly and maintenance is done when due.

“As a real estate practitioner, showing a house and making it inviting for potential buyers is a big part of your job. However, your own safety and the safety of your clients is of utmost priority. Never put yourself at risk unnecessarily,” Goslett emphasised.

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