As a real estate agent, it has probably occurred to you that a predator could be a problem. You can never have too many safety ideas to keep you out of harm’s way, and I have 12 more for you today.
Think about it: a predator could be driving down the street of your open house and at the spur of the moment, he or she might decide to pose as a potential buyer to screen you and determine if you’re prey material.
And if the predator sizes you up to be prey, he or she will then work hard to figure out a way to assault you — perhaps after the last person has left. Maybe he or she will suddenly reappear looking for a misplaced cell phone.
Aside from your safety, another thing to consider is the seller’s valuables. Even a legitimate buyer could suddenly feel like stealing something on the fly.
These scenarios are all too real, and more than likely, you don’t have a plan of action to prevent them.
The first step is to get familiar with the property before the open house. Don’t get there 10 minutes before the event if you’ve never visited the property before.
Know where all the portals are. Notice things like a fence in the backyard that’s too high to vault in an escape.
For an added layer of security, be on the phone with a colleague as you inspect the property. That way, if the predator suddenly appears and you’re in imminent danger, the person on the other end will send help.
12 steps to safety
1. Dress appropriately
Don’t dress like you’re going to a night club. Wear shoes you can escape in.
2. Check the space thoroughly
Check all the rooms and closets ahead of time, and check the space while telling a person on the phone what you’re doing.
3. Make an escape plan
Make sure all portals are unlocked in case you must escape.
4. Keep your phone handy
Once people begin showing up, have your cellphone in your hand at all times.
5. Require ID
Require visitors to leave their driver’s license at a check-in point where they sign.
They won’t be too shocked at this rule if you’ve already placed a handsome sign — that’s impossible to miss — stating that they must leave their photo ID with you before touring the property.
Rental agents in apartment complexes do this all the time. Get over it.
6. Don’t take excuses
If someone says they don’t have a photo ID because they were driven to the showing and they seem empty-handed, size them up or simply deny them. Don’t go into rooms alone with this person.
7. Treat all visitors equally
Don’t be laxer with small women versus large men. Treat all visitors equally.
8. Find a buddy
If you can’t find a partner to buddy up with, make it appear as though one is coming any minute or is already there.
For example, at your check-in table, have a second chair with a sweater or jacket over it and also place a sweater or jacket over your chair, thus giving the illusion that another person is there.
Have an opened can of soda or bottle of water in front of you, but also one in front of your ghost partner.
Go even further: have a pad and paper in front of you and one in front of your ghost partner. Your ghost partner’s pad should be something from your records that’s already full of notes to look less staged.
9. Stay in the rear
Always stay behind the visitors. Watch for any suspicious activity, such as someone entering with a gigantic purse.
Which reminds me — the sign should also state that all backpacks and bags must be left at the front of the house.
10. Pay attention
Make notes of suspicious behavior or people, including descriptions of them.
11. Trust your gut
If someone makes you feel afraid, and it’s just you and that person, make an excuse to leave so that it doesn’t appear to be an escape attempt.
Say something like, “I’m not feeling well; I’ll be right back!” Then dash out the door.
12. Get rid of hazards
Remove blocks of knives from kitchen counters.
Perhaps the biggest deterrent to a crime is having your wits about you. But also consider additional signage at the entrance stating the open house is under surveillance and IDs are required for entry.
And you can always take a self-defense class! Learn how to disable someone should you be backed into a corner and all else fails.
Use these tips to assure your safety at your next open house.
Robert Siciliano is CEO of IDTheftSecurity.com and a personal security and identity theft expert.