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Tragedy reminds Realtors® of open house dangers

by McQuilkin, Kathleen on

Unfortunately, like many jobs that require interacting with the public, selling real estate has its risks.

The kidnapping and assault of a Philadelphia Realtor® last month serves as a reminder to all real estate professionals that they must take care and take precautions to protect themselves.

Both your local, state, and national Realtor® organizations work diligently to promote safety awareness and protect its members, given the exposed nature of the business.

The National Association of Realtors® (NAR) reminds those working that open houses can be a great sales tool, however, hosting one also exposes you to numerous unfamiliar people for the first time.

NAR recommends agents take these 10 steps to stay safe:

  1. If possible, always try to have at least one other person working with you at the open house.
  2. Check your cell phone’s strength and signal prior to the open house. Have emergency numbers programmed on speed dial.
  3. Upon entering a house for the first time, check all rooms and determine several “escape” routes. Make sure all deadbolt locks are unlocked to facilitate a faster escape.
  4. Make sure that if you were to escape by the back door, you could escape from the backyard. Frequently, high fences surround yards that contain swimming pools or hot tubs.
  5. Have all open house visitors sign in. Ask for full name, address, phone number and e-mail.
  6. When showing the house, always walk behind the prospect. Direct them; don’t lead them. Say, for example, “The kitchen is on your left,” and gesture for them to go ahead of you.
  7. Avoid attics, basements, and getting trapped in small rooms.
  8. 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.
  9. 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.
  10. 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. Be prepared to defend yourself, if necessary.

Do you have any recommended safety tips? Please share in the comment section below.


Realtors Open house Safety Awareness
Comments (10)


  • Bernadette    August 15, 2014 | 7:45 am

    I always have a separate packet of info made up with a friend’s name on it and every time someone stops in I ask if they are “the Smiths” or “Bill Smith” for example. Then when they say know I say that I was just asking because I had a phone call in the morning and I was expecting “Bill Smith” around this time and had prepared a set of info. That way whomever just came in thinks Im expecting someone else to show up in a short while.

    Reply to Bernadette
    • Kevin Juliano    August 15, 2014 | 8:52 am

      Great tip Bernadette. Thanks for sharing!

      Reply to Kevin Juliano
  • Pam Gabriel    August 15, 2014 | 10:20 am

    Safety tip for homeowners. Check the basement to make sure doors or windows were not unlocked by a visitor for an unsavory return visit after you are gone.

    Reply to Pam Gabriel
  • Andrew Wetzel    August 15, 2014 | 2:52 pm

    I believe the incident was a car-jacking. While open house tips are always good, this situation requires a different approach such as locking doors when driving, knowing where you are going, leaving enough room to drive away, carrying pepper spray, etc.

    Reply to Andrew Wetzel
  • Kathy McQuilkin    August 15, 2014 | 3:15 pm

    Great ideas!

    Reply to Kathy McQuilkin
  • Karen Mandak    August 17, 2014 | 5:58 pm

    Great tip Bernadette – I will always do that from now on!

    Reply to Karen Mandak
  • Billie Jo Easterlin    August 18, 2014 | 7:54 am

    Never have signs with your face on them. Just invites trouble, I know this personally.

    Wear your hair down as it’s not as easy to grab.

    Always wear pants (no dresses or skirts) incase they try something its more of a fight to try to take off.

    I also carry a taser and a gun.

    Reply to Billie Jo Easterlin
  • Martina Lothert    September 4, 2014 | 4:18 pm

    I just recently started the “show ID” when walking in. No problems so far. At least you know the name matches on the sign in sheet. Just one person said she never had to show ID in all the open houses she visited the last 3 years… I guess she just was not ready to buy just yet. She would not do it and I had to turn her away.

    Also like Bernadette’s tip.

    Reply to Martina Lothert
  • Kim    September 4, 2014 | 5:54 pm

    I really like Bernadettes tip. I will use that. I’m new to Real Estate and when I was at an open house I had family call and I would be giving directions to the home and telling them I was looking forward to seeing them soon.

    Reply to Kim
  • Cherie G Jones    July 7, 2015 | 12:44 pm

    Ladies, put your purse and any other valuables in your trunk—before you leave for the Open House. If someone is watching you, they will know you put it in the trunk if you wait until you get to the house. Do not carry it in the house with you.

    Reply to Cherie G Jones

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