The summer home-selling season is only months away — and with it comes risks to your business when selling homes during extreme heat conditions.
2019 saw the United States grapple with significant heatwaves across the country. As temperatures soared, major events such as the New York City triathlon were canceled. Record temperatures caused disruption to many Americans across the nation. In July 2019, CBS even reported that 6 deaths had been attributed to the excessive heat.
For real estate professionals, being out of the office and on the road is just part of the job. As a broker, you have a duty of care to keep your team safe, particularly with the rise of extreme heat weather events. The predictions are that extreme weather is likely to increase in the years to come.
Here are some tips to protect your team, clients and prospects from the impacts of extreme heat conditions — and still keep selling!
Keep Track of Weather Warnings
According to one UCLA study, the number of days where temperatures will be more than 95 degrees each year could almost triple in Downtown Los Angeles by 2050. Similar predictions have been made for an increase in extreme heat days in the wider state of California, in Texas and in Florida.
Be sure to keep track of weather warnings in your area and encourage your team to do so as well. You can do this via the National Weather Service.
Be Mindful of Fire Risks
With an increase in hot weather and extreme heat conditions comes an increase in fire risks. This can potentially cause danger to your team when out in the field, particularly in areas where:
- Considerable fuel for wildfires exists, for example, hills and forest areas
- There are limited entry and exit points to a property
Wildfires can also cause smoky and smoggy conditions even in areas not experiencing active fires. That makes it dangerous to travel, particularly for people with pre-existing respiratory conditions.
Ensure you’re aware of active fire incidents in your area. You can check fire incidents through your state fire authorities:
You can also access air quality information via the national Air Now website.
Understand the Potential Impacts
When your team is working in extreme heat conditions, it can have a significant impact on their health and wellbeing. Initial dehydration can lead to dizziness and headaches, which are symptoms of heatstroke, a condition that requires medical attention.
There is increased danger when extreme heat then leads to wildfires. There are respiratory impacts from smoky conditions. But there can be much more serious outcomes if one of your team members is stuck in an area where active fires are present.
Have Policies and Procedures in Place for Your Team
Having policies and procedures can help keep your team and clients safe, and they also protect yourself and your business.
Here are some policies you should consider implementing to reduce the risks of extreme heat conditions:
- Extreme heat policy, outlining what temperatures are considered a risk and what measures you will put in place to mitigate the risks to your team and your clients
- Team safety policy, outlining how you’ll keep in touch with your team while they’re outside of the office, particularly in extreme weather conditions. For some firms, it’s standard practice to send a text message or make a call to the office after an open house to ensure the team member is safe and ok.
Modify Open House Plans to Suit the Weather Conditions
Extreme heat conditions can also impact negatively upon your clients and prospects, particularly those who are vulnerable, such as older people, people with health conditions or those with young children.
Encourage your team to consider this when arranging home opens during heat waves. They should aim to arrive early to put the air-conditioning or fans on to cool down the property before prospects arrive. Offering cold water can increase the comfort of prospects and help prevent dehydration. Scheduling home opens in the cooler parts of the day is also helpful in minimizing the risks.
Employing these strategies not only takes good care of your team. Potential buyers may be willing to spend more time in a property if they’re comfortable, and if the property seems comfortable to them in extreme heat conditions.
Protect Your Real Estate Business
Lawsuits can arise when you least expect it. Are you prepared if a client sues your firm because they suffered heat exhaustion at an open house? Or what if a team member becomes affected by extreme heat while working and claims you should have done more to protect him or her?
Ensure you protect yourself and your business against potential lawsuits. It’s essential you have Errors and Omissions insurance and Team Coverage when running a brokerage. You may also need Workers Compensation coverage — even for independent contractors — if you’re a broker in California.
Call CRES at 800-880-274 today to find out how you get a customized E&O policy tailored to your real estate business. CRES can also help with Business Owner’s Policies and Worker’s Comp.