Whether you’re a Realtor or you’re a homeowner wanting to sell your own home, it’s important to be aware of your safety, and protect your property and identity as you go through the sales process. It’s easier to keep track of one or two people when you’re showing the home, but it can be difficult if you have more people wandering around. Although, you need to be careful of two people separating as one could be trying to distract you while the other is stealing items. Obviously not everyone is going to be a criminal, and it’s good practice to treat everyone with certain rules that they need to follow.
OPEN HOUSE PREPARATION
- Park your car in a safe place. Make sure there’s no bushes near it, and ensure that no one can block you easily from leaving.
- Make sure your wallet or purse are locked in your car.
- Keep your cell phone with you in case you need to call the police. And make sure the battery is fully charged. Consider adding in the police department to your speed dials.
- Ask the homeowner to remove or lock up any prescriptions and jewelry. Hiding it won’t be sufficient since professionals know where to look.
- Remove kitchen knives, baseball bats, etc. Anything that can be used as a weapon against you should not be there.
- Ensure that someone else is there with you during the open house.
- Line up a few more friends who can show up if it gets really busy. They can just pretend to be looking around as well so it’s unobtrusive.
DURING THE OPEN HOUSE
- While you don’t want to hover, ensure that all guests are visible to you or your partner at all times.
- Be firm in having people sign in with addresses, phone numbers, and email addresses.
- If you give a tour, stay behind the visitor and point out where things are.
- Don’t let yourself get trapped. Stay near the doorway, and do not go with them into the attic or basement area. Also, do not go in walk-in closets, bathrooms and laundry rooms.
- Be especially aware of what’s going on, and who is around near the end of the open house. That is when the thieves usually arrive, and have one person do the distractions while the rest steal what they can.
- Trust your instinct. If you feel uncomfortable around someone, engage them in conversation to find out more about them. Most thieves will get uncomfortable and leave.
- Do not assume that everyone has left once the open house is complete. Do a complete walk through and look in closets, in the backyard, under the beds, etc.
- Let the homeowner know when the open house is finished so they can return their items and do a quick walk through to verify that everything is there.
SHOWING THE HOUSE
If you are just showing the house, but it’s not an open house, there are similar suggestions such as letting the visitor lead and not getting trapped. You’ve already gotten their personal information, and your office should know where you are. If you feel uncomfortable at any time, you can pretend to get a text message and state that another Realtor is on their way with clients, and you need to wrap it up.Remember, crimes against Realtors can happen to men as well as women. Your safety and well being are more important than any items.And you can read some of our prior posts on Realtor Safety:1. Realtor Safety: New Clients2. Touring Properties with Strangers3. Marketing and Personal Information