If you’re an area Realtor, you have no doubt heard the story of Betsy Carter, who was abducted and murdered while showing an open house. Her story, sparked a lot of safety events around the country to help women and men avoid danger when possible. September is Realtor Safety Month. Realtors can practice the following safety tips to decrease their chances of being a target of theft, stalking and assault.
Don’t get too personal
Try not to share personal info with your new clients. There’s no need for them to know where you live, where your kids go to school, if you’re single, or where you hang out on the weekends.
Be social media savvy
If you have a business account for Instagram, Facebook, Twitter or any other social media service, keep it about business. Feature the homes you are selling and keep your private business private. Give potential clients access to your office line only and keep your cell phone number off of social media.
Tone down the bling
Dressing for success is great. Putting your best foot forward and showing potential clients that you are a successful agent can be helpful in making a deal. However, wearing overly expensive jewelry, driving flashy cars, and carrying designer handbags can signal a potential thief that you may be a good target for theft. If you choose to wear your best, try to do that at the office when surrounded with people and not during open houses when you are alone.
Know how to protect yourself
Learning basic self-defense has helped many women and men in the moment of a life-threatening attack. Know your weapons that you have naturally on your body and how to use them. Knees, elbows, feet and hands can strike your opponent and help you get out of grabs and holds, long enough for you to possibly flee the situation. Carrying a Mace Brand Realtor Safety Kit while showing open houses can help you fend off an attacker in the moment. I highly recommend having one handy.
Fake it till you make it
Always use strong body language when showing open houses. Even if you are feeling nervous or vulnerable in a situation, using great posture and making direct eye contact with clients will show you are still feeling confident and in control. Your brain may even start to believe it too.
Don’t let clients tell you where to go in a house. Lead the conversation and the showing but let clients walk ahead of you if you are entering a room with only one exit. Stay close to the exit while allowing the client to walk around the room and explore. If showing a closed-in backyard or area, the same principle applies. Never back yourself into a corner. Stay close to the exit and let the client explore.
Create a code
If you ever find yourself in a situation that you want out of immediately, having a code with colleagues or loved ones can help. Have a secret code word or phrase that you can text or say on a phone call that would sound innocent to the attacker but would signal your colleagues and loved ones that you are in danger and that they should send help. Perhaps you can play along with this potential attacker, disguised as a client, and tell them you have to call the office to confirm the details of the home you are showing. Say your code and know that help will be on it’s way, hopefully in the form of police officers.
Another tactic to get out of a showing as fast as possible is to lie. Have a phrase ready that you are comfortable saying that gives you an immediate out regardless of what the client says. Perhaps it is something like, “my child’s school just texted and there is an emergency. I must leave now.” If the client refuses to leave, leave the house anyway and go get help.
We want to hear from you. Are you a real estate agent? Have you ever felt unsafe while on the job?