Hosting an open house event is a great way to get your listing noticed, but it is also an invitation for a constant wave of strangers to come through the property and poke around. Some of these “potential buyers” may be more interested in the valuables within the home, than the home itself. Open-house thieves are known to steal collectibles, jewelry, laptops and even toiletries and medication. Don’t fall victim to open house attacks by being unprepared.
At OpenHouseDay, We Emphasize Agent Safety
In February 2011, a real estate agent in Iowa was assaulted and tied up when she arrived to her scheduled home-viewing appointment. The attackers robbed the home and left the agent tied up for hours. In Des Moines, a real estate agent was fatally shot during a model home open house. In March 2015, a real estate agent in Arizona was sexually assaulted during her open house. These tragedies occur more often than agents are aware of.
To be prepared, make sure to take these safety precautions on the day of the open house:
- Become friendly with the neighbors because there is safety in numbers. Introduce yourself, point out your car, and even extend an invite to the open house. Meeting the neighbors may also give you a leg up in gaining referrals.
- Advise your clients about valuables being left out in their home. Theft can often result in a lawsuit against the agent. To avoid this, develop a list of valuables that clients should put away before the open house, like jewelry, mail, prescriptions, extra keys and financial documents.
- Park where you are not blocked in. Agents are often most fearful when they are walking to their car after an open house. Be sure to have a clear line of sight to your car.
- Establish escape routes by walking around the home and taking note of doors, fences and gates. Unlock the backyard gate for an easy exit. Open the garage door as well, but lock the door that leads inside the home. Make sure to direct clients to the front door with signs.
- Check out guests as they come in, introduce yourself and direct them to the sign-in sheet. Never turn your back on a guest – always let the guests lead the way.
- Carry only the essentials. Your purse should be left in the trunk of your car before you leave your house and not when you arrive to the open house. When picking a room to wait in during the open house, make sure to choose the room with the best cell service and the most escape routes.
- Set up for safety by handing decorative bells outside each door that is unlocked so that you receive a signal whenever someone comes into the home. Never bring your laptop to an open house, because it can be easily stolen and signing onto someone’s unsecured Wi-Fi can put you at risk for identity theft.
- Don’t go into rooms that have no escape routes, such as walk-in closets, bathrooms and laundry rooms. Direct visitors to those rooms instead.
- Work in teams and always be aware of your surroundings. The most common place where agents are attacked during open houses is at the front door, because it takes lockboxes time to open. If you are working alone, turn your back against the wall to avoid being attacked from behind. It is much better to work in a team – a great way to do this is to have your affiliates such as a title officer or home inspector sit at the open house with you.
- Close up in a team. Openings and closings are the most dangerous periods during an open house. If there is an agent down the street holding another open house, lock up your house and meet with the other agent and offer to walk through his or her house and close it up with him or her and then both of you can go to your property and close up together.
Make Your Open Houses Safer with OpenHouseDay
Hosting an open house poses many risks, many of which can be avoided with OpenHouseDay. This tool allows you to plan a safer open house by knowing who is going to be attending. With OpenHouseDay, members who are interested in attending an open house will have to verify their attendance, creating a safe and secure list for the agent to reference.