The story was on this morning’s news: a Realtor in Maryland was sexually assaulted in the basement of a house she was showing. This scenario is replayed all too frequently across the country. There are no solid statistics on Realtor Safety, but anecdotal evidence reveals that Realtors are assaulted, robbed, shot at, and even killed in the line of duty. Every Realtor should be safety conscious and while the Internet is full of useful tips on personal safety and self-defense, let’s look at some specific safety tips that apply directly to Realtors.
- Safety at showings
- Safety with open houses
- Safety in the office
Realtor safety at showings
1. Meet the client in the office, not at the property. Introduce him or her to co-workers. Tell the receptionist or your office mate where you are going and what time you’ll be back. Ask new clients for ID or a license plate number. Tell them it’s company policy.
2. Put yourself in the driver’s seat. It’s always a bit safer if you do the driving. It puts you in the position of control.
3. Don’t be a leader. Let the client go into the house first. Never let him get between you and the door. If you sense that something is not right, make an excuse to go outside to make a phone call or get something out of your car. Wait outside and let the client view the property by himself if you have to.
4. Smart phone—smart move. Get the best cell phone on the market and make it a safety tool. With a smart phone, you can
- Take pictures of the client, his or her car, even the license plate. Don’t be afraid to be obvious about it.
- Fake making a phone call to separate yourself from the client.
- Have an arrangement for someone in the office to call you at regular intervals.
- Use a locator app that texts you at regular intervals. It will ask “Are you OK?” If two questions go unanswered, the app will automatically notify your office or other contact that you didn’t respond and will give them your GPS location.
5. Two heads are better than one. Don’t sit an open house alone if you can avoid it. Bring along a work colleague or even one of your children if you have to. Never ever show a vacant home alone after dark.
6. Dress down. Glitzy jewelry, expensive watches, or flashy clothes may attract attention, but it’s the kind of attention you don’t need.
7. Lie with a straight face. If you feel uncomfortable about a situation, fake it. Tell the client another Realtor has a showing at the property in a few minutes. Say you need to call the office or your spouse to let them know when you’ll be back. Have the police department on speed dial.
8. You do the talking. Ask prospective buyers a lot of questions, such as where they live now, where they work, how long they’ve been in the area. Write down their answers. Ask if they have a prequalification letter—this helps to determine if they are actual buyers or perhaps have something else in mind.
Realtor safety in the office
9. Talk about it. Discuss concerns and precautions informally with your colleagues and formally in staff meetings. Bring up concerns about particular clients and brainstorm contingency plans for dealing with problem situations.
10. Don’t get personal. Never put your home address, phone number or personal email on your business card. Your picture may or may not be a good idea, depending on your location and working environment.
11. Lay low. If you need to be in the office alone after hours, keep all the doors and windows locked. Close the blinds. Leave lots of lights on, inside and out, so it looks like there’s activity. Let someone else know where you are and when you plan to leave. If your building has a security guard, have him or her walk you to your car.
And one final word on Realtor safety. . .
12. Listen to your gut. If your intuition tells you something is creepy, it probably is. Don’t be afraid of offending a potential client or of looking foolish. It’s an old cliché, but it fits: “It’s better to be safe than sorry.”
— Richard M. Hartian (@WinningAgent) June 4, 2012
Have a story to tell or have other ways to stay safe?
Please share them below in the comments.