As a real estate agent, it has probably occurred to you that a predator could be driving down the street of your next open house. And at the spur of the moment, the predator could decide to pose as a potential buyer to “screen” you to see if you’re prey material.
Or the predator could case the house to steal something. However, you still block these thoughts, think “it can’t happen to me” and do nothing to deter a criminal.
And if the predator sizes you up to be prey, he or she will then work to figure out a way to attack — perhaps after the last person has left. Maybe the predator will suddenly reappear and say he or she accidentally left his or her cell phone on the countertop.
1. Think about it
This is unpleasant to even think about, but it’s a reality you need to come to grips with. Acknowledging this and thinking it through is the first step in personal protection. Take a self-defense program that utilizes adrenal stress training.
2. Consider the seller’s valuables
Even a legitimate buyer could suddenly feel like stealing an item on the fly. Have a discussion with the seller about removing everything of value including jewelry, electronics, drugs and guns.
3. Bring someone
Perhaps the biggest deterrent to a crime is if you have a partner do the open house with you — and that partner doesn’t have to be in real estate.
4. 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 prior.
5. Know the status of all the doors and windows
Are they locked? Are the hinges still in the doors after all the visitors left?
6. For an added layer of security, be on the phone with a colleague as you inspect the property
This way if anyone suddenly appears — speak loud and say, “Great, you’re outside right now? OK. I’ll see you in a minute”
7. Be ready from head to toe
Dress professionally. Wear shoes you can escape in.
8. Check all the rooms and closets ahead of time
Call someone on the phone, and do this — while telling the person over the phone what you’re doing.
9. Once people begin showing up, have your cell phone in your hand at all times
Never set it down or leave it unattended.
10. Require visitors to show 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 show their photo ID with you before touring the property.
11. If someone says they don’t have a photo ID because they were driven to the showing, and they seem empty-handed, try to size them up
Don’t enter rooms alone with this person.
12. Don’t be more lax with small women versus large men
Treat all visitors equally. If you can’t find a partner, 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, while your chair also has a sweater or jacket over it. Have an opened can of soda or bottle of water in front of you but also one in front of your “partner.”
Go even further: have a pad and paper before yourself and one before your “partner.” The one before your “partner” should be something from your records that’s already full of notes to look less staged.
13. Always stay behind the visitors
Watch for any suspicious activity, like someone entering with a gigantic purse. Which reminds me — the sign should also state that all backpacks must be left up front.
14. Make notes of suspicious behavior or people, including descriptions of them
Take notes, perhaps on your notepad.
15. If someone makes you feel afraid, and it’s just you and that person — make an excuse to leave that won’t be suspected as an escape attempt
Be smart. Go check on something, and get out of that situation. Don’t stay because you don’t want to be rude.
And when it’s all said and done, don’t worry about a thing you’ve read — but you still need to do something about it.
Robert Siciliano is CEO of IDTheftSecurity.com and a personal security and identity theft expert.