Illinois REALTOR® Magazine  | April 2013
Holding open houses is part of being a REALTOR®. You can increase the service you bring to your customers by being more familiar with the area, neighbors, and features of the house. Don’t let your focus on a potential sale, or a hurried schedule, distract you from being safe. Always be aware of your surroundings and develop a plan, just in case something goes wrong.
When you’re holding an open house, previewing the property increases your familiarity with the home, the area, enabling a higher level of service to potential buyers. But that same familiarity provides an opportunity to come up with a safety plan, which increases safety for you, your clients, and people attending the showing.
Take time before the open house to meet the neighbors. They’ll be curious about a house for sale on their street. They’ll want to know the asking price, see any upgrades, and compare the listing to their own home, so take advantage of their inquisitiveness. Knock on doors of the houses on either side and across the street from the property and introduce yourself, identify your car, and let them know when you’ll be showing the property. This not only increases the number of people who know where you are, but also puts you in front of potential clients and may give you inside knowledge about the area.
You shouldn’t host an open house alone. If you don’t have anyone to go with you, invite a title company or bank to host the open house with you. Remember closing time is always the most dangerous. If having someone with you is impossible, be sure people know where you are and what time you should finish up. Be sure to check in with them or have them check in on you every 20 minutes.
You should plan at least two ways to escape out of the house should there be an emergency. Be sure to check that doors are unlocked and that if you exit out a back door, that fence gates are also open.
Check your cell phone reception inside the house. Make sure on the day of the open house your cell phone is charged and with you at all times.
Determine where you’ll park so you won’t get blocked in, usually in the street. Never park in the driveway.
Never turn your back on a customer. When walking through the house, never lead. Gesture for the customer to walk ahead of you.
Never go into small areas like stairwells, closets, basements or attics where you could get trapped inside. You can speak to the customer from outside these areas while they look around.
Never let your guard down. Be aware of where everyone is that’s entered the house.
If something doesn’t feel right or if someone gives you a weird feeling, don’t dismiss it. If you are alone, leave the house and call for someone to join you.
Source: These REALTOR® safety tips were provided by Safety Awareness Firearms Education (S.A.F.E.), a Florida-based safety training company that has offered training sessions, seminars and workshops to real estate professionals around the country. The late Andrew Wooten, who was president of S.A.F.E., was the author of “A Safety Guide for Open Houses, Listing Appointments & Vacant Properties” and “The Real Estate Guide to Safety.”
Use social media to spread the word. Think beyond your website, print advertising and other traditional methods to promote your open house. Post information on third-party sites such as Trulia and Zillow. Push it out on Twitter. Create a Facebook event. Read more tips.