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9 Tips for Realtors to Create the Ultimate Open House Safety Plan

July 29 2015

hfinder ultimateOpenHouseSafetyPlanHave you ever been concerned for your safety during an open house? The realities of hosting a public event in an unfamiliar home – where the agent is often working alone – make many agents an easy target for criminals. Fortunately, you can reduce your vulnerability simply by having an open house safety plan.

While your plan should be customized according to personal needs, the property you're showing, and the area you work in, there are a few basic recommendations every agent should consider. Start by reading the following Realtor safety tips, and then create a plan of your own.

1. Bring an assistant

There are lots of details to manage when you're running an open house event. Instead of worrying about how you'll accomplish everything on your own, why not enlist help? An assistant can spot potential threats and keep tabs on your whereabouts, in addition to providing general event support.

2. Walk through the house before the event

Give yourself 30-60 minutes in the home before the open house begins to reacquaint yourself with the layout of the property. Note potential exits from every room in the house, and be aware of locations that could be difficult to escape in an emergency situation.

While you want to keep the entire home accessible for serious buyers to explore, take care not to enter a basement, attic, or other risky zone alone with an unknown visitor.

3. Ensure the backyard has an accessible exit

Many backyards are surrounded by high fences and may normally be locked shut in order to prevent intruders. During the open house, be sure gates are unlocked in case you need to make an emergency exit.

4. Turn on every light

Not only is this a great staging tip, but increased lighting makes it easier for you to see what's happening in and around the home. If it's dark outside, provide plenty of external lighting too.

You can also open curtains and blinds throughout the house. This makes everything happening in the home visible to those outside and could deter potential assailants who will be less confident in their ability to go unnoticed.

5. Have a way to contact emergency personnel

During a crisis, time is precious. You'll want to have a device on-hand that can communicate with your local police department.

Some people prefer a charged cell phone with pre-programmed emergency numbers; however, it is common to panic during an emergency, reducing the speed and quality with which one passes on critical information. Consider carrying a personal safety device like Guard LlamaGuard Llama, which can relay your precise location to local authorities with the push of a button.

6. Ask all visitors to sign in

Request that your open house visitors provide basic personal information such as name, phone number, and email address. While some visitors will resist on the grounds that they do not wish to be contacted following the event, you should be wary of anyone behaving strangely when asked to sign in.

7. Walk behind visitors

Direct open house visitors with your words rather than walking in front of them. This allows you to observe their movements and react accordingly.

Make it your routine to say "please, after you" when entering a room with a visitor. It's a polite way to keep an eye on their whereabouts and maintain control of the space.

8. Have a contact that you check in with regularly

If you can't bring an assistant to your open house, check in over the phone with a family member, friend, or colleague every hour throughout the event. Remember to also indicate a time you will check in following the event.

Be consistent about checking in on time so that your contact knows if you haven't checked in, they need to send help. Don't forget to establish a procedure for getting help in the event you don't check in on time.

9. Walk through the entire property at the conclusion of the open house

Ensure that all vehicles are gone and that there aren't any lingering visitors in a seldom-used or out-of-the-way room. When clearing a multi-level home, start from the top and work your way down. In a ranch-style property, start from the back of the home and move to the front.

Hosting an open house is a great way to showcase your listing, but it also exposes Realtors to a lot of unfamiliar people and can create an opportunity for crooks to strike. By keeping your open house safety knowledge foremost in your mind while planning and hosting the event, you can ensure security for yourself and your visitors.

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