As a REALTOR®, you put yourself at risk when meeting strangers at an open house or for a showing. Follow these safety practices provided by the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS® and other seasoned real estate professionals when you meet with potential new clients.
Start with the video “Staying Safe While Meeting Strangers,” which offers 12 tips to maintaining a safe presence in the field. This includes a critical safety tactic of meeting a new client at the office (or another public location) first before meeting them alone at a property. You should also let someone in your office know where you’re going, with whom and when you will be returning.
Another outstanding resource — and a must read for real estate agents new to the industry — is “56 Safety Tips for REALTORS®.” Here’s a sample of some of the great tips you’ll find in this insightful guide:
Keep it light—show properties before dark. If you are going to be working after hours, advise your associate or first-line supervisor of your schedule. 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.
Don’t be too public—limit the amount of personal information you share. Consider advertising without using your photograph, home phone number and/or home address in the newspaper or on business cards. Don’t use your full name with middle name or initial. Use your office address—or list no address at all. Giving out too much of the wrong information can make you a target.
Open house safety—it ain’t over till it’s over. Don’t assume that everyone has left the premises at the end of an open house. Check all of the rooms and the backyard prior to locking the doors. Be prepared to defend yourself, if necessary.
Block identity theft—contact the fraud department of any of the three consumer reporting companies— Equifax®, ExperianSM and Trans Union®—to place a fraud alert on your credit report. The fraud alert automatically lets credit card companies and other creditors know they must contact you before opening any new accounts or making any changes to your existing accounts.
Bring up the rear—when showing a home, always have your prospect walk in front of you. Don’t lead them, but rather, direct them from a position slightly behind them. You can gesture for them to go ahead of you and say, for example, “The master suite is in the back of the house.”
You take the wheel—whenever possible, take your own car to a showing. When you leave your car, lock it.
Have a lifeline—if you find yourself to be the last one in an open house and your car is not in the immediate vicinity of the venue, then make a phone call as you walk. Assailants will be less willing to attack if you are in mid conversation with another person.
Finally, don’t forget to check out the REALTOR® Safety Webinars for specific information about a variety of safety topics, including:
“Are You and Your Data an Easy Target?”
“Every Agent’s Five-Step Plan for Open Houses”
“Social Media and Cyber Safety”
“How to Lay the Groundwork for Safety”
“Safe Selling in the Most Dangerous Season”
Knowing and following these tips, and others you learn from seasoned real estate agents, will ensure you are working in the safest environment possible.