Going into the community and touring homes with prospective buyers is the main day-to-day work of a real estate agent, but many agents find that this work is more dangerous than they first anticipated. When walking into a home, an agent never knows what situation may present itself, and sometimes the buyers are complete strangers at the start of this process. Here are some tips real estate agents can use to make sure they can do their job safely, without fear of running into some unexpected danger along the way.
Meet new clients safely
Meeting a new client for the first time puts an agent at risk, because the agent has no way of knowing whether that client is who they say they are. Consider meeting in a public place or at the real estate office first. Ask for identification, claiming company policy, and photocopy it for the client's file. Introduce all new clients to co-workers, then ask them to fill out an identification form. All of these actions will deter potential criminals, but will not be a concern for law-abiding citizens.
Avoid confined spaces
Confined spaces, like the basement or attic, are somewhere an agent can easily become trapped if the buyers are unscrupulous. Agents can avoid these areas by talking about the home's selling point, then allowing the buyer to explore these areas while remaining by the front door. Agents should position themselves by the door to any room they are exploring, while the buyer does the primary tour, allowing the agent to flee more quickly if needed.
Bring a friend
In situations that make an agent uncomfortable, strength in numbers is the best defense. Bringing a friend, coworkers, or even a spouse, but have someone else along to help provide another measure of safety.
Use caution in vacant properties
For most agents, the clients are not the biggest risk they face. Often the risk is in the homes they are touring, especially when those homes are supposed to be vacant. First, vacant properties are often welcoming to unwanted guests. Squatters can be quite dangerous because they are unwilling to leave their new abode, but vermin and insect infestations can also be dangerous.
To avoid problems, visit vacant properties during the day only, and always let someone else know which property is on the schedule. Understand whether the home has a security system or not to know how careful you'll need to be. Inspect the exterior before entering for signs of problems. Finally, don't confront a squatter or previous owner who may be inside the home, but instead, call the police to report any trespassers.
Practice personal safety
Real estate agents must use their own images for marketing purpose, because they work in a highly personal field. However, marketing materials that contain personal photos can draw the attention of predators and other criminals. Because of this, agents need to know basic personal safety measures.
First, agents need to wear shoes and clothes they can run in if a showing turns dangerous. They also need to avoid using personal and home contact information in marketing materials, opting instead to use their office phone and company cell phone. Agents should use caution about friending their clients on social media, where they may post photos and information about their families and personal life for all to see. Taking a self-defense class, carrying a Mace Brand Realtor safety kit and understanding what to do in a serious situation are all good ideas for agents who spend their time in the public eye.
Real estate is not a dangerous field, but it does carry some risks. Practicing smart real estate techniques with a focus on personal safety will help keep today's agents safe and successful.