Preparing for unknown or unexpected situations can be a challenge for all of us, and especially real estate agents. If you're an agent, you know you often meet potential home buyers at odd times and at a moment's notice. Safety should be your top priority, and we can help guide you along the way. Here are some safety tips for real estate agents that may come in handy when out in the field.
SNAP A PICTURE
Take a quick picture of all your clients and their vehicles. If you can, get a picture of their license plate too and send it to a co-worker or family member. This ensures that someone knows where you are and who you are engaging in the home buying process. Be sure to be specific about the address of the property when you let someone know you're about to show it.
TOUR THE PROPERTY BEFOREHAND
Make sure you're familiar with the property before the client arrives. Take a pre-tour. This eliminates any potential surprises, which could include dangerous areas or even hazards like flooded areas or electrical issues.
LET THE CLIENT LEAD
It's much safer to follow clients through a property so you always have them in your full view. Avoid going into the basement if possible and always be aware of all the exits, in case you need to get away quickly.
WATCH THE KEYS
Leaving keys outside of a home in locations like under the doormat, above the door, or near the entrance can expose you to the possibility of someone finding the key and making a copy of it. Use a secure, lockbox system so you can control the keys and make sure anyone who doesn't belong doesn't get in.
FOLLOW YOUR INSTINCTS
Many agents who have been crime victims say they felt something was off, but did not take action soon enough. If something feels out of place, don't hesitate to stop a showing and leave immediately.
CARRY A PERSONAL PROTECTION DEVICE
Safety will always be an issue for real estate agents. While there is no way to guarantee your safety, you can reduce the chances of having dangerous encounters if you have an intentional approach to personal safety.
According to the National Association of Realtors®, the top choice for personal protection among real estate agents is pepper spray, followed by a firearm, pocket knife, and taser.
Mace® Brand has put together a real estate agent safety kit, which includes the powerful triple action pocket model pepper spray, a flash stun gun, and a personal alarm wristlet. This combination is a powerful non-lethal personal defense strategy. The triple action pepper spray is the maximum strength allowed by law, and combines pepper spray, tear gas, and UV marking dye. The kit also includes an ear-piercing alarm and a powerful stun gun.
CREATE AN OFFICE SAFETY PLAN
Developing a specific plan for your personal safety is a good idea, but consider devising a safety plan for your entire office. Some agents shy away from talking about personal safety concerns, but if nobody talks about these issues, it helps no one. The dangers a real estate agent faces are real, and not addressing them will not make them go away.
Should you meet a client at the office first where others are present? Should you do a background check? Should you always work with another agent? These questions should be addressed and become part of your office policy, if you don't have a safety policy already.
KEEP EMERGENCY NUMBERS IN YOUR PHONE
Most agents have several emergency numbers already flagged in their phones. It's also a good idea to keep several people you know as emergency contacts programmed into your phone so you can be easily get to them in a threatening situation.
Always ask your clients to drive separately. That way you're in control of your car and you don't have to worry about what your passenger might do. Also, don't park in remote areas or away from other occupied houses. Always choose areas that are close to other people in case you need to get away from a situation or attract other people's attention.
Consider professional safety training, and look for courses taught by professionals. Search online for self-defense training classes offered in your area. Many recreation centers and even some police and fire departments offer these classes as well.
Additional safety tips for real estate agents from the National Association of Realtors:
Mace® Brand is committed to guiding you along the non-lethal path of personal protection. We pride ourselves on providing community and family safety through individual empowerment. Your personal safety should always be a priority, and for real estate agents, taking steps to ensure your safety is a must.
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