Open Houses are a key component of many agent business plans — but it’s important to stay safe. Given below are some suggestions to help you protect yourself.
Open houses are essential for marketing both a home and ourselves. But they also expose us to people we don’t know, and thus increase our need for caution. A recent case in North Carolina highlights our vulnerability and the need for safety measures whenever we are alone with strangers in a home. We offer these tips for safe, smart open houses (note that many of these ideas also serve for touring homes with unknown clients as well).
Before an Open
- Go to the home to check the strength of your cell phone’s signal. If you don’t get good reception, locate the land lines in the house.
- Charge your phone fully.
- Go to the neighbors on each side of and across from the home. Introduce yourself to the residents and let them know you’re hosting an open house, explaining why there will be increased traffic and strangers for a few hours. You then gain extra eyes for safety—and perhaps future clients as well.
- Ask the seller to remove anything in the house that might entice a thief: small handheld devices, prescription drugs, jewelry, etc.
At the Open
- Unlock all doors. Not only does this allow people to move through the house, it allows you to escape quickly if you need to do so.
- Turn on all lights, pull back curtains, lift blinds. Doing so makes the home welcoming, but also increases your visibility to people who pass by.
- Visitors go first. When guiding visitors through the home, stay behind them. You can gesture to the kitchen or bedroom, for example, politely standing aside so they can go in first.
- Let family-members, friends or colleagues know what you’re doing. Be sure someone knows where you are and can check on you.
- Consider having a safe word/phrase to use if you need help. For instance, maybe your phrase is “yellow file.” If your friend/family calls you and you’re in trouble but can’t say so, you can say “Can you check the yellow file?” This is the signal to call the police.
Beware of cellars, attics, and garages. Any enclosed space where you cannot get away can be dangerous.
With these simple measures, your open house can be a safe, successful, experience.