Real Estate: 12 tips for staying safe at your open house

Tips from Hailey Reider at The Texas Real Estate Center at Texas A&M University

  1. Have the seller remove all valuables​ from the home before the showing. An open house provides potent​​ial burglars a way to map out a home and identify valuables to target. Belongings like video game consoles, jewelry, and important documents should be removed from the property and kept somewhere safe.
  2. Bring a colleague or friend to the open house. It is always good practice to have another set of eyes and ears to alert you to potential threats.
  3. Check in with someone even if you are not alone at the open house. Notify someone off-property, like a colleague, friend, or relative, that you will be calling them every hour, on the hour. If you don’t call, they are to call you. You should also give them the address and turn on location sharing if possible.
  4. Create an escape plan. When you first enter a house, check all rooms to determine several escape routes. Unlock deadbolts and open a couple of windows to facilitate a faster escape. If the backyard is fenced, be sure you can escape from there as well.
  5. Check your cell signal before the open house. Make sure your phone is charged and has an adequate signal. Program emergency numbers on speed dial.
  6. Walk behind the prospect. Do not lead the client around the home; instead, direct them around the house from behind. The prospect should always be in your “10 and 2″ range of vision.
  7. Avoid small rooms. Stay close to the exits in attics, basements, and other small rooms. Do not let yourself be cornered.
  8. Have a sign-in procedure to identify prospects. Have all open house visitors sign in with their full name, address, phone number, email, and vehicle information. When scheduling a one-on-one showing, be sure to photograph the prospect’s identification card and send the picture to someone in your office.
  9. Keep your keys and phone on your person. Your handbag should be locked in the trunk of your vehicle.
  10. Keep an eye out for suspicious activity. If anything is out of the ordinary—like a man wearing a long coat on a hot day, or someone asking about when the sellers are coming home—do not be afraid to cut the showing short. However, the best course of action is to stay calm and not show fear. Confidence is key, and always keep your head up. For added protection, ask neighbors to keep an eye out for suspicious activity.
  11. Make sure everyone is out of the home before locking up. Do not assume the home is empty after the open house. Check every room to make sure no one has stayed in the home. Make sure all windows and doors are locked.
  12. Trust your gut. If something feels wrong, it very well may be. You should remain alert and aware. If you need to cut the open house short or alert the authorities, do not be afraid to do so. Remain professional, and get out quickly if you need to.

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