Though we’d all like to believe that no harm will come to us, it is better to be as prepared as possible in the event something does happen. Use these tips to keep you, your clients, and other real estate agents safe while hosting an open house.
1. Keep it Light
– Be aware of the time of your open house by showing properties before dusk. If you must work after hours or when the sun is setting, turn on all the lights and don’t lower any shades. Avoid showing properties without electricity after dark.
2. Keep Track of Colleagues
– Whenever you or a colleague go to meet a client, make sure to let someone know where you’re going and when you’ll be back. Consider implementing a check –out employee board that includes your name, destination, client name, date, and expected return. Schedule a time for your office to call and check in if you have not spoken to anyone by a certain time.
3. Before and After
– Consider going to view the house a few hours before showing the property to familiarize yourself with the space and minimize future surprises. As the open house is coming to an end, don’t assume everyone has left. Check all rooms and the backyard before locking the doors. As an extra precaution, call someone and tell them what you’re doing while completing your last walk -through.
4. Stranger Danger
– Advise home sellers not to show their home by themselves. Some “potential buyers” are looking to steal from homeowners instead of buying the home.
5. Doors and Windows
– Thoroughly check windows and doors before showing a property. Check locks, hinges, and any sign of tampering after the event. Doors that are metal on the outside or solid 1¾” hardwood with sturdy locks will keep you and your client’s home safe.
6. Bring Up the Rear
– While showing a home, it is preferred for agents to position themselves behind potential buyers to keep an eye out for wanderers or any suspicious activity. Guide buyers with gestures and voice directions.
7. Safe Transportation
– If possible, drive your own car to a showing and make sure to lock it when exiting. If you cannot take your own car and must take public transportation, it is better to ride in a registered taxi.
8. Cell Phone Safety
– In today’s world, our cell phones are vital. Make sure yours is fully charged and be aware of your phone reception/service before the start of the event. Once the event starts, keep your phone on you at all times and never leave it unattended.
9. Hide Valuables
– Emphasize to sellers the importance of hiding all valuables, mail, bills, prescriptions, and personal information. Consider locking up all small electronics or other expensive belongings in a safe with a combination lock in a hidden location.
10. Distress Code
– Create an office distress code with your colleagues in the event of a dangerous situation. Use the code to alert someone to the situation without alarming the potential threat. A distress code can be as simple as, “Hi, this is Hannah with Mr. Smith at the Sunny Street listing. Could you email me the RED FOLDER?”
11. Plan an Escape
– Have an escape plan in place in the event of a dangerous situation. Make sure that your car is parked in front of the property as opposed to the driveway to avoid blocking yourself in. Before the start of the open house, check each room for at least two escape routes and unlock all deadbolts for easy access. Lastly, have a prepared excuse to give any threat to remove yourself from the situation or the area.
12. Make Observations
– As you arrive, ask yourself the following questions well-before the start of the event.
13. Carry Less
- When You Arrive:
- Is there any questionable activity in the area?
- Are you parked in a well-lit, visible location?
- Can you be blocked in the driveway by another vehicle?
- Walking Toward the House:
- Are people coming and going or is the area unusually quiet?
- Do you observe any obstacles or hiding places in the parking lot or along the street?
- Is anyone loitering in the area?
- Entering the House:
- Does anything seem out of place?
- Is anyone present who shouldn’t be there or who isn’t expected?
– Carry non-valuable business items and lock your purse in the trunk of your car. Avoid wearing expensive jewelry or carrying a large amount of money.
14. Safety Partners
– Form a partnership with your clients. Inform them of the steps you are taking to ensure the safety of yourself and their belongings while advising them to double check once they return home later that day.
15. Unoccupied Spaces
– Avoid using the word “vacant” when showing properties that do not currently have anyone occupying them. If you staged the home, avoid leaving the boxes on the street for others to see. Instead, break the boxes down and place them in a bag, or remove them off the premises.
Sep 19, 2018