September is REALTOR Safety Month
All occupations offer some risks. As a newer real estate agent, you may not be aware of the continuous concern for personal safety in this career. There will be many times you will be working alone showing a property or previewing a home, holding an open house and meeting a new client for the first time. It is important to always make your safety a priority. Here are a few tips to keep in mind to ensure your safety.
The initial client meeting
When you have a new client, ask him/her to stop by your office or meet at a local coffee shop for the initial meeting. Never meet a new client at a house or secluded location, if the client is instant on this, that is a red flag. Before you meet the client, learn all you can about them, do your research, check sites like Google, Facebook, Linkedin – also consider looking up phone number and email address online. Also, if you can, photocopy their driver’s license and retain this information at your office. Write down the make and model of their car along with their license plate number if you can. Be sure to properly discard this personal information when you no longer need it.
Show in the light and follow behind
Always schedule showings during the day. If you must show a property after dark, turn on all lights as you go through, and don’t lower any shades or draw curtains or blinds. Always allow the client to proceed ahead of you while showing the property. Make sure you have previewed the property and know all of the accessible exits.
Avoid driving alone with new clients
Ask new clients to drive their car and follow you to the property you plan to show them. You can tell them you have to return immediately after the showing or that you have another appointment directly after. This way you are not alone in the car with people you don’t know.
Always let someone know exactly where you are going (the addresses of the houses you are showing or the open house you are holding) and when you will be back; leave the name and phone number of the client you are meeting. If you are feeling unsure about a client, you should schedule a time for your office or spouse to call you to check-in. Still feeling weary? Have another agent or even your spouse go with you to the showing.
Have a distress code
Create a voice distress code, 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 code when making a distress call to your contact who knows where you are.
Pick up some self-defense skills
Enroll in a self-defense class to assist you in protecting yourself until someone can respond to your call for help. Never assume that you can talk your way out of a situation. Many health clubs, martial arts studios, police stations, and community colleges offer self-defense classes for a nominal fee or even free. You should definitely know some basics for protecting yourself though the primary goal in any threatening situation is to escape from immediate danger and call for help.
Have your excuse ready
Part of being prepared to deal with a threatening situation is having “an out.” Prepare a scenario in advance so that you can leave—or you can encourage someone who makes you uncomfortable to leave. For example, excuse yourself to return a missed a call from your broker/spouse/kids, you left some important information in your car, or tell your client another agent with buyers is on their way and your time in the home is up.
Don’t get parked-in
When showing a property or meeting someone, park your car in front of the property rather than in the driveway. This way you will avoid having your car blocked in, you’ll have an easier time escaping in your vehicle, and you will attract lots of attention running and screaming to your car at the curb area. Always keep your keys and your (fully charged) cell phone with you. Ladies, leave your purse locked up in the trunk, don’t bring it in with you.
Open House Safety
If possible, never hold an open house alone. Working with a partner allows you the luxury of having someone available to call or go for assistance if needed, and someone to help monitor how many people are in the house. If you must do an open house alone, stay near the door and let the prospect look through the house alone. Also, don’t assume everyone has left the premises at the end of an open house. Check all of the rooms and the backyard prior to locking all of the doors. Be prepared to defend yourself, if necessary. You can also post a sign on the door saying this home is under video surveillance- even if it is not. Look for more open house tips in a future post.
Make your clients your “safety partners”
Inform your clients that you are taking safety precautions and that you’ve checked and locked the home before leaving, they should immediately double-check all locks and scout for missing items immediately upon their return, in case you’ve missed any less-than-obvious means of entry.
If you are comfortable, carry pepper spray or another personal safety device with you. If you have a concealed carry permit, you would be allowed to carry your firearm with you. Check your state requirements. If you do choose to carry additional personal protection with you, please ensure you are completely knowledgeable of the proper use of the item.
Being prepared by keeping safety top-of-mind will help you avoid uncomfortable situations where you might otherwise be caught off-guard. This is true for not only women real estate agents, but men too. Always be aware of your surroundings. Trust your gut, don’t be a hero or become another statistic. Get yourself to safety and call for help.
The Beverly Carter Foundation: https://beverlycarterfoundation.org/
The Beverly Carter Foundation, a 501(c)(3) non-profit, was created as a result of the senseless kidnapping and murder of real estate broker Beverly Carter. Beverly was targeted because she was perceived to be a “rich broker who worked alone.” Check out their website for more great resources and ways to donate to support their mission.
Here is a great list of Safety Resources for all NAR (National Association of REALTOR) members including safety products, safety programs and excellent safety applications for smartphones: https://www.nar.realtor/safety/safety-resources-for-nar-members