Open House Safety
Open houses are a valuable sales tool—but with recent headlines such as, “Man, Posing as Agent, Arrested in Open House Robbery” and “Stun gun Used on Real Estate Agent during Open House,” Realtor’s should prepare in advance for potential safety risks. The National Association of REALTORS® offers the following tips for holding a safe open house:
- If possible, always try to have at least one other person working with you at an open house.
- Check your cell phone’s strength and signal before the open house. Have emergency numbers programmed on speed dial.
- Upon entering a house for the first time, check all rooms and determine several “escape” routes. Make sure all deadbolt locks are unlocked to facilitate a faster escape.
- Make sure that if you were to escape by the back door, you could escape from the backyard. Frequently, high fences surround yards that contain swimming pools or hot tubs.
- Have all open house visitors sign in. Ask for full name, address, phone number, and email.
- When showing the house, always walk behind the prospect. Direct them; don’t lead them. Say, for example, “The kitchen is on your left,” and gesture for them to go ahead of you.
- Avoid attics, basements, and getting trapped in small rooms.
- Notify someone in your office, your answering service, a friend or a relative that you will be calling in every hour on the hour. And if you don’t call, they are to call you.
- Inform a neighbor that you will be showing the house and ask if he or she would keep an eye and ear open for anything out of the ordinary.
- Don’t assume that everyone has left the premises at the end of an open house. Check all the rooms and the backyard before locking the doors. Be prepared to defend yourself, if necessary.