How To Stay Safe When You’re Working an Open House
Realtors already have a huge list of concerns to worry about when working an open house. An open house is one of the first steps in closing a deal on a home, and everything needs to be as perfect as possible. Unfortunately, realtors these days also need to be concerned with their personal safety, as there have been an increasing number of incidents happening at open houses. Though it’s not something we want to have to think about, those who make their safety a priority—even when there may not seem to be a need for it—will feel more comfortable and clear-headed when it comes time to work.
So, here are some tips to keep yourself safe:
Bring Someone With You
There’s an unofficial rule when it comes to running open houses and that’s that realtors should always be working in a “buddy system.” This is especially true for women. As a realtor, you should never host an open house by yourself. There should always be someone else there with you—whether it’s a co-worker, a secretary, or even a family member who can be at the open house—even if they need to act as though they are seeing it for themselves. Either way, no one will think it’s strange or unprofessional if you have someone else there as a safety net because it’s more important to be safe than sorry.
Don’t Do a Showing After Dark
Open houses are typically always held in broad daylight, and there’s a good reason for that. And, whether it’s an open house or someone is asking you to do a showing in the evening, the simple answer should always be “no.” Of course, you can say it a bit nicer—that you don’t have the time in your schedule or you already have set hours arranged with the homeowner. Whatever the case may be, don’t let someone organize a showing with you after dark as there’s always a higher risk that something could happen. Does that mean that incidences can’t happen in the daytime? Of course not, but they are certainly less likely.
Introduce Yourself to the Neighbors
The neighbors of the home you are showing are probably aware that there’s an open house going on, likely because of the sign they see on the lawn every time they pull into their driveway. They might be irritated with it as well, because the idea of having dozens of strangers parking in front of their house might not be so appealing to them. Despite this, on the day of the showing or open house, go over and introduce yourself to the neighbors. Heck, even ask them if there’s anything you can do to make them more comfortable with what’s happening right outside their home. Essentially, showing them your face can help aid personal safety. They know who you are and as human beings, they’ll be subconsciously thinking of you when you’re running an open house next door.
Decide if a Knock or an Open Door Policy is Better
There are often debates about whether or not you should have people knock when they arrive at an open house, or if you should leave the door open for people to walk in freely. If you ask people to knock, it gives you a chance to see who is outside the door before letting them in, and if the person looks suspicious, you have some time to decide how you’re going to handle the situation. However, seeing as you’ll pretty much have to acknowledge anyone who comes, this might not always be as safe as it sounds, because once that door is closed behind you, well — you never know what can go on.
On the other hand, leaving the door open gives people the ability to just walk in. That can be a bit disconcerting because it’s hard to vet who comes in and out of the home. That being said, having the door kept open at all times might mean that an incident is less likely to occur merely because everyone in the neighborhood can see what’s going on within the home.
Ultimately, you’ll need to listen to your gut to decide what’s best, and you might switch from a knocking policy to an open door policy depending on different factors.
Have a Way to Contact Emergency Services Discreetly
One of the best ways to ensure your safety while hosting an open house or a showing is by having a way to contact emergency services if things suddenly take a turn for the worst. For those who have an iPhone, you can simply hit the lock button quickly five times, and a screen will appear that will allow you to send a notification to emergency services. Samsung phones (Android) have a similar function in which you push the power button quickly four times to be connected to emergency services, though it does differ from one phone to another, so it’s important to explore your phone’s settings before relying on this. You can also try an app called BSAFE and Guard Llama.
Other options might be to have concealed carry depending on your state’s regulations, or even carry pepper spray (again, according to your state’s regulations). If you’re not comfortable with that, there are different wearable devices, like Safelet, ROAR Athena, and Revolar, which can save you if you find yourself facing danger.
Require People To Advise You Before They Come
If you’re very concerned about your own personal safety, then you can be stricter when it comes to your open house policies. This may prove to be difficult, because it goes against the nature of open houses. But, you can ask that those interested in coming to your open house to contact you beforehand and let you know who they are and when they will be arriving. This may take away from the number of options you have regarding potential buyers, but it’s definitely a way to keep you safe.
The discussion of personal safety for realtors is not here to scare anyone. In most cases, realtors should have nothing to worry about, though it never hurts to take as many precautions as possible.
Do you have other strategies for realtors who want to maintain personal safety? Let us know in the comments!