REALTORS® need to be watchful and always take safety precautions when they host an open house. Recently, it was reported that a visitor at an open house in Willow Glen was caught on a Nest security camera going through all the drawers and closets of the homeowner. The female visitor had told the REALTOR® she had a child sleeping in the car and asked if the REALTOR® could watch the car out the front door while she looked at the home. The individual then proceeded to enter the master bedroom, bathroom and bedroom and was caught on camera going through the nightstand drawers, dresser drawers and closets looking for valuables. Fortunately, the owners had locked away their valuables prior to the open house, so nothing was stolen.

These days with the short supply of homes for sale and rising rents, many buyers are scrambling to buy homes and this has caused more traffic at open houses. REALTORS® hosting an open house need to be on the alert. Open houses can be a great sales tool, but hosting one exposes you to unfamiliar people, and while more traffic increases the potential for crime.

Below is a list of safety tips for both REALTORS® and their clients from the National Association of REALTORS® Safety Resources Kit:

  1. Remind your clients that strangers will be walking through their home during showings or open houses. Tell them to hide any valuables in a safe place. For security’s sake, remove keys, credit cards, jewelry, crystal, furs and other valuables, including expensive electronics like computers and laptops, from the home or lock them away during showings. Also remove prescription drugs and don’t leave personal information like mail or bills.
  2. If possible, always try to have at least one other person working with you at the open house.
  3. Check your cell phone’s strength and signal prior to the open house. Have emergency numbers programmed on speed dial.
  4. Upon entering a house for the first time, check all rooms and determine several “escape” routes. Make sure all deadbolt locks are unlocked to facilitate a faster escape.
  5. Have all open house visitors sign in. Ask for full name, address, phone number and email.
  6. When showing the house, always walk behind the prospect. Direct them; don’t lead them. Say, for example, “The kitchen is on your left,” and gesture for them to go ahead of you.
  7. Avoid attics, basements, and getting trapped in small rooms.
  8. Notify someone in your office, your answering service, a friend or a relative that you will be calling in every hour on the hour. And if you don’t call, they are to call you.
  9. Inform a neighbor that you will be showing the house and ask if he or she would keep an eye and ear open for anything out of the ordinary.
  10. Be alert to the pattern of visitors’ arrivals, especially near the end of showing hours. In some areas, a group of thieves will show up together near the end of the open house and, while a string of “potential buyers” distracts the agent, the rest of the group walks through the house, stealing any valuables they come across.

Visit NAR’s REALTOR® Safety website for more safety tips at www.REALTOR.org/Safety.

 

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