With September designated as REALTOR® Safety Month, OnCourse Learning Real Estate is offering 30 tips — one for each day of the month — to keep real estate agents safe during property showings.
“Safety should be top of mind with every real estate agent all year long,” said Brian Swan, vice president Real Estate Products, OnCourse Learning General Manager, Stringham Schools. “It’s a profession that places agents in situations holding inherent risks, such as walking into strangers’ homes, showing vacant properties and allowing strangers into personal vehicles.”
The following tips can help keep real estate agents safe and avoid risky situatons:
Meet first-time clients in the office rather than in the field. This sets a professional tone on which to base the relationship, and also provides an opportunity for you to make a copy of your client’s driver’s license and have them fill out a Prospect Identification Form like this example from NAR.
Don’t skip the identity verification step for any client.
If meeting in the office proves impossible, take a picture of your client’s driver’s license and car license tag and send it in by email or text from your cell phone to your broker or office manager.
Take care not to wear expensive jewelry in advertising or promotional photos.
Limit the personal information you share. You can get to know your client and still build a quality business relationship without providing too much information about yourself, your family or where you live.
Do not share your home address or phone number on any advertisement. A business phone and address are sufficient.
Introduce your prospect to someone at the office when you meet them for the first time.
Always let someone know where you are going and when you will be back. Leave the client’s name and phone number, plus any additional information you have collected about the person you are meeting.
Keep control of keys to the property always. Never leave them under the door mat or other unsecured location.
Implement an employee check-out board on the brokerage website or at the office so agents can list their name, destination, customer name, the date, and expected return time.
Never list properties as vacant.
Do not park in the driveway. Park at the curb in front of the property to make it easy to leave if necessary.
Show properties before dark. Do not lower shades or draw curtains or blinds.
Establish a distress code with a friend or someone in the office. A secret word or phrase that is not commonly used but can be worked into any conversation for cases where you may feel threatened. Example: “Hi, this is Jane. I am at [address]. Could you send me the red file?”
Do not bring any type of purse or briefcase into a property. Lock it in the car trunk before you arrive.
Always keep your cell phone and your car keys with you.
Make sure you cell phone is fully charged before leaving your home or the office.
Do not wear expensive jewelry or watches to the office or showings.
Don’t multi-task. Always be aware of your clients’ movements. Doing paperwork, sending texts or checking emails takes your focus from the task at hand and your safety.
Always walk behind the prospect while showing a property. Direct them, don’t lead them. For example, say, “The kitchen is on your left.”
Avoid attics and basements and small rooms. If clients want to view those areas, you don’t need to go with them.
Take your own vehicle to appointments. This ensures you have the power to leave if you deem it necessary.
Look in the backseat and underneath the car before getting into your car alone. Lock the doors immediately when you get inside.
Dress for the weather. If your car breaks down, or you need to escape a dangerous situation on foot, you will need to be dressed appropriately.
Take a self-defense class. A good course will teach you proper maneuvers to physically fend off an attack, and it will cover critical-thinking skills, defense strategies, assertiveness and powerful communication tactics.
Plan an escape route for each property you are showing before prospects arrive. Make yourself familiar with the layout, security system and exits in every property you show. Before a showing, arrive early and unlock multiple exits.
Be prepared to defend yourself. Carry something that is legal in your state, designed for self-defense and learn how to use it.
Do not hesitate to call 9-1-1 in an emergency.
Trust your instincts. If you don’t feel comfortable about a situation, figure out an alternative or ask someone to go with you.