Summer is the busiest season for real estate. If you’re a Realtor, chances are your calendar is full of open houses, client meetings, and showings. Not all of those interactions will be favorable. In the National Association of Realtors (NAR)’s 2018 Member Safety Survey, 33% of respondents reported being in a situation that caused them fear. Common unsafe environments included open houses, vacant or remote properties, and unlocked or unsecured properties.
Staying Safe as a Real Estate Agent
With a third of real estate agents reportedly feeling unsafe at some point in their career, it’s important to have a safety plan and a safety checklist, establish an exit strategy and be aware of your surroundings.
1. Share Your Plan
Let someone in your office AND someone in your personal circle know where you’re going and when you will be back. Leave the client’s name, phone number, and any other relevant contact information. Ask for someone to call during your scheduled meeting time and make sure you’re safe.
2. Verify Identities
It may seem overreaching, but you should always verify your clients are whom they say they are. Ask for a scanned copy of a photo ID before meeting any prospective clients at a property.
3. Walk Behind
When showing a property to potential buyers, always have them walk in front of you, particularly when going downstairs. You can still direct them to specific areas of the house, but you’ll never leave yourself in a vulnerable position.
4. Be the Driver
You should always drive your own vehicle to a property when possible. Either offer to drive your clients to showings or have them follow you.
5. Don’t Share Personal Information
Yes, you want to be personable, but you should never share personal information – where you live, where your children go to school, your plans after work – with clients.
6. Stay in the Light
When at all possible, you should show properties during daytime hours. If you have to show a home after dark, never enter a darkened room without first turning on the lights. Make sure all shades are open so passersby can see inside.
7. Have Emergency Numbers Ready on Your Cell Phone
In an emergency, how easily can you access your phone to dial 911? Keep your phone within reach during open houses and showings to ensure you can easily access emergency numbers if needed.
8. Be Aware of Your Surroundings
Before entering a property, take a moment to scan the perimeter. Is anything out of place? Is there anything that could potentially be hazardous or harmful? Are all windows and doors locked? The best defense for dangerous situations is to stay aware of what’s happening around you at all times.
9. Don’t Go Alone and Check Your Open House
It is wise to “bring a friend” to your open houses so you are not alone. You can often team up with another real estate agent, or even a local mortgage loan officer, so you have another person with you. Also, before leaving your open house, be sure to go through all rooms, checking closets and other spaces to ensure no one has stayed behind. Check to be sure all doors and windows are locked. Authorities report vandals coming into open houses in groups, distracting real estate agents while other members rifle through the homeowner’s belongings. Stay aware of visitors’ whereabouts.
10. Know Basic Self Defense
We hope you never need to use a self-defense plan, but you should be prepared just in case. You should have necessary self-defense skills (many communities offer self-defense courses, particularly for women) at the very least, and consider having some sort of defensive weapon. You might consider carrying pepper spray, a licensed firearm, a pocket knife, or an emergency beacon.
Odds are you’ll never need to use any of these Realtor safety tips, but you should be aware of potential hazards and dangers and prepare yourself for any possibility. By creating a safety plan ahead of time, you’ll ensure both you and your clients stay protected.
For more Realtor safety tips, visit the NAR’s safety resource page.