As the real estate market picks up in spring, agents will be hosting multiple open houses. Since agents will be exposed to many unfamiliar people, they need to ensure they are safe. A few things agents can do to host a safe open house include hosting with another person, having all visitors sign in with their full name and contact information, letting the neighbors know there will be an open house, and letting their office, friends, or relatives know about the open house and that you will be checking in with them every hour. When you are actually showing the home, take note of ways to escape the rooms, make sure to walk behind the visitors, never go into a small space with them, and check all of the rooms before you leave to make sure no one is still in the home.
- Open houses can be potentially dangerous for real estate agents, so they need to take precautions to protect themselves.
- Agents should do open houses in pairs and inform their office, a friend or a relative that they will be calling them every hour at a specific time, so that if they don’t hear from the agent, they will know something is wrong.
- When showing a home, agents should always walk behind the visitors and direct their attention to rooms that they can go into and look at by themselves.
- Agents need to take a tour of the home prior to the open house and identify possible escape routes they could use if they feel threatened.
Open houses can be a great sales tool—but hosting one also exposes you to numerous unfamiliar people for the first time. Take these steps to stay safe:
- If possible, always try to have at least one other person working with you at the open house.
- Check your cell phone’s strength and signal prior to 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 of the rooms and the backyard prior to locking the doors. Be prepared to defend yourself, if necessary.
(Sources: Washington Real Estate Safety Council; City of Mesa, Arizona; Nevada County Board of REALTORS®; Georgia Real Estate Commission)
Visit NAR’s REALTOR® Safety website at www.nar.realtor/Safety