It’s Open House Season!
With summer home sales ramping up, there are more opportunities to showcase properties with open houses. As a real estate professional, you not only want to look your best and present your client’s home in the best light possible, but you also want to be safe in doing so. Recently the Division of Real Estate hosted a Realty Safety class by the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Department with Deputy Brad Herman, who went over numerous safety issues to consider when holding an open house.
While there are many more safety measures that you can employ, hopefully these tips will help you and your associates have a safe open house and a prosperous home selling season.
The Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office presents Realty Safety classes to real estate professionals, and they also have a Residential Security Survey form that you can download
Open House Tips from Jefferson County Sheriff’s Deputy Brad Herman
- Let someone else in your office or a friend know where your open house is located, and set up a contact plan with them for you to check-in, or have them check-in with you.
- If you can bring an associate or friend with you – all the better.
- Make sure that your cell phone battery is charged and that you have strong cell phone service in the area. Always have your cell phone immediately accessible and have an easy access dial to 911. Have the GPS on your cell phone activated for location.
- If you have to call 911, the first thing to say is your location and stay on the line as long as you can do so safely. (Calling 911 from a cell phone gives a cell phone tower address and not your exact location.)
- Check to see if the landline has service. Even if service has been deactivated, 911 may be accessible if the line is connected (you hear a dial tone). Consider taking a spare corded landline phone with you if it is a vacant property and plug it in to check for a dial tone.
- Consider a personal safety app like “Smart 911”, and a community notification app like “Code Red”.
- Change the lockbox code consistently or consider using a new “smart” lockbox device
- Park your vehicle in the street for easy access and possible escape
- Let the neighbors know that you are there showing an open house and leave them your business card.
- Place one of your business cards in a kitchen cabinet with the date and time so that authorities know you were there.
- Open the curtains and turn on the lights, check all the rooms, doors, and windows, and consider possible escape routes – know the property layout before visitors arrive.
- Check the backyard to see if there is a possible escape route or barriers, such as locked gates or fences.
- Make sure deadbolts and door chains do not slow down your exit escape.
- Dress professionally, but make sure that you can make an escape in your clothes and shoes.
- Stay alert and tuned-in to your surroundings and be confident in your appearance and demeanor.
- Keep a personal space between you and any visitor – a “reactionary gap” if someone gets too close.
- Have visitors sign in with the time of entry and their contact information, and ask to see a photo ID.
- If you have an uneasy feeling about some visitor, go outside and remain in plain view of the neighbors and call local law enforcement to see if they can do an extra patrol.
- Let the house visitor lead the way into rooms, confined areas and basements. Consider waiting at the top of the basement stairs while they look around.
- Learn to recognize drug activity or indications of possible drug manufacturing at the premises.
- If you carry a self-defense weapon such as a gun, knife, Taser, or pepper spray, make sure that you are following the appropriate laws and that you are proficient in using those weapons and trained in not having them taken and used against you.
- If the worst scenario happens, be ready to fight for your life – you may only have one opportunity.
- Check to make sure the house is vacant before you lock up.
- Consider taking a self-defense class.
- Take a safety awareness class.