Open Houses and property showings are often what helps an agent sell a home or a prospective buyer decide on which house they want to purchase. While they are widely embraced as the norm in the world of real estate, they can easily leave agents, home owners and valuables vulnerable to the increased risk of harm or theft.
The National Association of Realtors named September “Realtor Safety Month” in an effort to increase awareness to the growing number of crimes happening during open houses so that agents and clients alike will keep themselves out of harm’s way. We know it isn’t September but as the market heats up so do open houses and the chance for an incident.
Tips for Realtors
- Schedule your first client meeting at the office.
- Schedule your showings in the daytime with as much light as possible. It’s helpful so that you can see any potential hazards in the house and natural sunlight helps you be more aware of your surroundings.
- Charge your phone battery and make sure you have signal strength or access to a land line.
- When you arrive at a house for the first time, determine multiple exit routes in the event of an emergency. Check front and back doors exits, and make sure there’s an easy way out of the back yard if you leave through the back or side doors.
- It’s recommended for visual appeal, but it’s also a safety measure to turn on all lights and open the windows and curtains.
- It’s recommended that you walk behind prospective buyers instead of leading them so you can see what they’re up to.
- Double check at the end of the open house that everyone has in fact left so that you’re sure the house is empty before you leave.
- Make sure someone knows where you are!
Lastly, as active members in the community, Realtors and agents have the privilege of entering private residences. Most of the time, homes are prepared to sell and are relatively clean, but not all of them. Agents are not considered mandated reporters (required by law to report cases of suspected abuse), but upon entering a home for the first time, if you notice any unhealthy living situation for children, elderly people, or pets, it is considered a ‘good faith action’ for you to anonymously report such activity.
Tips for Home Sellers
- Never let a stranger into your home- always make them go through the agent to schedule an appointment for showing.
- Identify unknown agents. If an agent shows up at the house, direct them to call that agent’s office to confirm they are who they say they are. They should also require that the agents go through the lock box to gain access.
- Remove all valuables, documentation, and prescriptions from the home. Discard all expired prescriptions so that any attendees of the open houses won’t go through the medicine cabinets looking for these types of things.
Safety should be the number one concern. The more informed we are, the better able we are to protect ourselves, our clients, their homes and their valuables. Turning these safety practices into habit is the best way to keep you safe, successful and focused on what you love to do.