Sept. 1 marks the first day of a month long awareness campaign aimed at increasing the safety of real estate agents. The National Association of REALTORS® has a dedicated safety site for agents to gather information and resources to use and share with their team.
Working in real estate comes with risks not normally taken in everyday life. Agents often meet strangers alone, in isolated locations and even in the dark. There are many areas where real estate agents are exposed to dangers that they’d otherwise avoid.
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The four most dangerous areas are vacant homes, showing a property alone, meeting a client alone for the first time and open houses.
The tenets of REALTOR® safety are: knowledge, awareness and empowerment. Here are some tips to help keep you safe:
Make sure someone in the office knows where you are and stay in contact.Don’t schedule a private showing until you’ve met your client. Have them come to the office first and fill out a personal identification form including a copy of their driver’s license.
Schedule appointments during the day. This is one of the easiest ways to stay safe. If you have to show at night, arrive early, turn on all lights, raise the blinds and be sure to let someone in your office know you are on a night showing.
Be discreet about sharing any personal information such as where you live and your private phone numbers.
As much as possible, drive your own vehicle to showings and go in pairs. Park where you don’t run the risk of being blocked in by other vehicles.
Avoid wearing expensive jewelry, watches, and carrying laptops or other valuable portable devices. Keep your briefcase or purse in the trunk of your vehicle or out of sight.
Have your client lead the way when touring a home and direct them kindly from a position where your back isn’t completely turned to them.
Be prepared! As much as you don’t want to think it's necessary, having some self-defense training is a good idea.
Create a voice distress code that your team can respond to if needed. This is a secret word or phrase that is not commonly used but can be worked into any conversation for cases where you feel that you are in danger. Use this if the person you are with can overhear the conversation, but you don’t want to alarm them. Example: “Hi, this is Jennifer. I’m with Mr. Henderson at the Elm Street listing. Could you email me the RED FILE?” (source: REALTOR® Safety Guide)
When hosting open houses, have a co-worker or assistant present with you if possible. Have people sign in and out so you know when everyone has left the home.
Trust your instincts. If something doesn’t feel right, remove yourself from the situation or avoid it altogether. Your safety is paramount.