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Saturday, March 30, 2013

15 Safety Tips for Realtors and Homeowners to Practice During an Open House

Josienita Borlongan, Yahoo! Contributor Network

What Realtors and Homeowners Should Do to Protect Themselves

With so many houses for sale, even in a softened market, one thing is for sure- that crime against people and/or their properties can and do happen. Some criminals take advantage of the stale market, where homeowners desperately trying to sell their homes would conduct several open houses. Oftentimes, these criminals would visit certain houses to scan them, only to come back later and commit a crime- whether robbery or something worse. With these reasons in mind, realtors and homeowners alike should practice safety during an open house.

Here are some safety tips for realtors and homeowners to practice during an open house:

1. Homeowners selling their house need to remember that strangers will be walking through their home. Hide any valuable in a safe and secure place. If you have a vault or a fire safe box, keep all important documents as well as jewelries in it. If you have prescription drugs, keep them away from plain sight. This way, those who are trying to seek some thrills will not be tempted.

2. Put away the kitchen knives and other things that can be used as weapons, like baseball bats, etc. and keep them in a place where they cannot be easily found or reached.

3. If possible, make sure that your agent is with you when someone wants to see your home. If you are having an open house, volunteer to stay home. Most real estate agents will let you stay home during an open house, as long as you are not in the way of prospective buyers.

4. Suggest to your realtor that you would prefer that he or she is not alone. Have them bring a companion so that one can possibly greet people, while the other can follow the crowd as they walk through out the house.

5. If you are a realtor, make sure that you have your mobile phone fully charged, and in your possession at all times. Make sure that you have pre-programmed important emergency numbers on speed dial. Carry an extra fully charged cell phone battery which you can use in case your other battery runs out.

6. Before showing a home to a prospective buyer or before conducting an open house, the realtor should visit the house first an hour prior to the scheduled open house. Both the seller and the realtor should do a walk-through together and discuss the details and safety precautions that need to be done; check all rooms, and determine several escape routes. Make sure that all deadbolts are unlocked to facilitate a faster escape.

7. Maintain an information sheet and have all open house visitors sign in. Ask for full name, address, phone number, and email address.

8. When showing the house, always walk behind the prospect. Instead of leading the way, direct them to where the rooms are by pointing the locations and then gesturing to them to go ahead of you. For example if you are showing where the master bedroom is at say, “The master bedroom is upstairs to your left” then let them walk towards it while you follow behind.

9. Don’t let yourself get trapped in. When showing the house, make sure that you are always by the door of each room so you can easily walk away if needed. Never turn your back on the visitors when trying to explain features of the home. Try to avoid walking with them to the attics or basements where you can easily get trapped and no one would hear you.

10. At an open house, be alert on the pattern of visitors’ arrivals, especially near the end of the showing hours. In some areas, a group of thieves may show up together near the end of the open house and, while a string of supposed potential buyers distracts the realtor, stealing any valuable they come across.

11. 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.

12. If you have a strange feeling about the visitors and they seem odd, follow your gut feeling and politely ask more questions. Do not show that you are suspecting them; after all there is a difference between being paranoid and being safe. Ask questions on what they are looking for in a home, try to make conversations and watch their reactions and see if there is anything odd with their answers.

Some people may be naturally nervous about looking for prospective homes to buy, but you should be able to keep a safe distance if you are sensing something odd. Do not try to interrogate them, after all, if they turn out to be real buyers you do not want to scare them away. Again, exercising good judgment is the key!

13. 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. Keep the front door and all the windows open if the weather permits, so that if you try to call out for help you can be easily heard.

14. 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. Then make sure that all doors and windows are locked. Thieves commonly use open houses to scout for valuables and possible points of entry, and then return after the agent leaves. There are even thieves who would hide themselves in rooms or inside the closets and wait while everybody is gone before doing their criminal deeds.

15. The realtor should immediately call the homeowners when the open house is done. When the homeowners return home, they should immediately verify that all doors are locked and all valuables accounted for. Inspect the rooms, basement, attic, storage rooms, closets, under the beds, if they are all clear.

Practicing the above safety tips during an open house can ensure that both realtors and the homeowners, and their properties are safe from any criminal acts.

My name is Scott Grebner and I have been helping my clients realize their own personal real estate dreams. Real estate is a relationship-based business that works best when client relationships are built on trust and confidence. My goal is having clients be completely satisfied with the professional and caring service they have received.

The role of technology is rapidly changing how the real-estate market functions in this country today. Gerharter Realtors is embracing these new mediums of communication to better serve our customers. We have created our e-family to better place important information in your hands to help you with your housing needs. As a part of Gerharter Enterprises we have access to a broader range of additional services and resources to better assist you. Visit me at my Web Site, Blog, Facebook, Twitter, You Tube or Pinterest. Please check out our helpful resources on Sellers Tips, Buyers Tips, Foreclosure Tips, and Mortgage Tips. For a personal consultation please visit our Office.

It seems that the dream of past generations was to pay off a mortgage. The dream of today’s young families is to get one. I would love to hear from you, about your Real Estate Dreams and questions.

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