Every day REALTORS® across the nation put themselves in positions where they can be victims of dangerous crimes. Whether it’s putting up signs along the highway, meeting a new client, or showing a house to a prospective buyer, your personal safety is often at stake. To raise awareness about this important issue, the month of September is officially designated by the National Association of REALTORS® as REALTOR® Safety Month.

“The safety of the Silicon Valley Association of REALTORS®’ 5,000 members is a top priority. An open house can be a great sales tool, but it also exposes you to numerous unfamiliar people for the first time. Thieves and assailants have been known to prey on open houses. We always caution our members to be watchful of suspicious behavior when hosting an open house,” said Brett Caviness, president of SILVAR.

Take these steps to stay safe at open houses:

  • If possible, always try to have at least one other person working with you at an open house.
  • Check your cell phone’s strength and signal prior to the open house. Have emergency numbers programmed on speed dial.
  • 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.
  • Make sure that if you were to escape by the back door, you could escape from the backyard. Frequently, high fences surround yards that contain swimming pools or hot tubs.
  • Have all open house visitors sign in. Ask for full name, address, phone number and email.
  • 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.
  • Avoid attics, basements, and getting trapped in small rooms.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Don’t assume that everyone has left the premises at the end of an open house. Check all of the rooms and the backyard prior to locking the doors. Be prepared to defend yourself, if necessary.

For more information on REALTOR® and consumer safety, visit www.realtor.org/safety.