We all love open houses. Open house events have many virtues, but what you may not know is that they also come with some risk.
Open houses offer the perfect chance for buyers to start looking for a new home and getting a feel for what’s available. Open houses help sellers gain exposure for their property in the marketplace ASAP. And they are an opportunity for buyers and sellers to meet Realtors they may want to work with for their next move.
But there is a risk. While promoting the property and the open house event, Realtors are also promoting the fact that they will be alone in a house at a specific address, date and time. This leaves an opportunity for people who may have ulterior motives. Some people visit open houses with the intent of theft of valuables or prescription medications. Others may have assault in mind.
Open House Safety
There are educational programs for Realtors to help them prevent potential dangers and know what to do if the unthinkable were to happen. Some of the information pertains only to the person hosting the event, but there are important open house safety tips that guests and neighborhood residents should be aware of.
Most of us would agree that it’s important for everyone to contribute to a safe neighborhood. Open houses are an integral part of neighborhood activities. So we all need to take watch, especially during these community events. Please keep the following safety tips from the police in mind.
- First and foremost is to be aware of your surroundings. As a neighbor, you may see open house signs quite often. Try to be aware of the activity during the open house near you. Does it seem typical?
- Does anything seem “not normal”? If something stands out to you as out of the ordinary, take notice. Are there too many people in that car? Did the car park much further away from the open house than needed? Does something seem odd? Not normal?
- Trust your gut. Whether you are participating in an open house event or are a neighbor observing from across the street, if something just doesn’t feel right, it most likely is not. If you assume wrong and err on the side of cautiousness, no harm is done, right?
- Take action. It’s best to park on the street when you attend an open house if possible so that you won’t be blocked in. If you are in an open house and don’t feel safe, try to exit right away. Go outside, call 911 and immediately provide the address. If you are a neighbor and notice that something is not right, call 911, or if you feel it is not urgent, call the police and ask them to drive by. And last, but not least, if you see a frightened Realtor heading toward your house, please let them in!
We can all work together to keep our neighborhoods and our open houses safe and enjoyable.