Real Estate Agent Safety Tips for Showing a Home
The National Association of REALTORS® has dedicated September as REALTOR® Safety Month. Their goal is to reduce the number of safety incidents that happen in the industry, so all real estate agents make it home safely every night.
Real estate agents face job-related risks every day. Being aware of potential dangers and taking precautions will help avoid risky situations.
Below are some safety tips to keep in mind as you are showing a home, meeting new clients, protecting your business against cyber fraud, and tips for sellers to keep their property safe during the sale of their home.
Showing Tip #1: Light it Up
Avoid showing properties when it is dark outside or close to being dark. If you must work after hours, advise your supervisor and associates of your schedule. At the property, turn on all the lights as you go through and avoid lowering any shades, blinds, or curtains.
Showing Tip #2: Stay Behind
When showing a property, always have your client walk slightly in front of you. Don’t lead them, but instead direct them from behind. An example might be you gesturing for them to go ahead of you and saying, “The kitchen is to the right.”
Showing Tip #3: Have your Excuse Ready
When dealing with dangerous or suspicious situations, always have an “out” prepared. Prepare a scenario in advance so that you can leave or so you can encourage the other person to leave. Some examples include you have a family emergency, you missed a call from the office and need to call the back, or another agent is on the way with his buyers.
Showing Tip #4: Early Bird
Show up at the property early to scout the area and check for questionable activity. You also want to make sure you can park in a well-lit, visible location and be in an area where you can’t get blocked in if someone parks behind you. Also look out for the following:
- Is it a busy area?
- Are there any places someone could potentially hide?
- Is anyone loitering in the area?
- Is anything out of place?
- Is anyone present who shouldn’t be there?
Showing Tip #5: Don’t get Parked In
When you are showing a property or meeting someone, be sure to park in an area that you can easily escape out of. Avoid the driveway because someone could park behind you and keep you from leaving. The further you park away, the more time you must scream and alert the neighborhood of the danger.
Showing Tip #6: Escape Routes
When you show up early at the property, not only should you check your surroundings, but you should analyze for easy escape routes. Scan all rooms of the house to find at least two escape routes and unlock and deadbolts to make for easy escape if needed.
Showing Tip #7: Showing Model Homes
When you are showing a model home, have the guest fill out a form stating their full name, address, phone number, email, and vehicle information.
Real Estate Agent Safety Tips for Meeting New Clients
Client Tip #1: Check In
Before you meet a new client at a property, you should meet them at your office first. Have them bring their photo ID and fill out a Prospect Identification Form. Photocopy both and keep this information at your office. When you no longer need it, properly discard these documents.
Client Tip #2: Touch Base
Always let people know where you are going, who you are going with, and what time you plan to be done. Communicate the name and phone number of the client and schedule a time for your office to call and check in.
Client Tip #3: Wear your ID
Always wear your company ID or badge on you. It is also best to drive a company marked vehicle when meeting clients and showing homes.
Client Tip #4: Drive Yourself
Avoid riding in a car or having the client ride in your car. It is best to drive separately to the property. Also, don’t forget to lock your car.
Client Tip #5: Hello? Is anyone there?
Some commercial properties, and even some residential properties have thick walls that can make getting cell service difficult. Other properties are out in the middle of nowhere. Check in advance if your cell carrier gets service in that area.
Client Tip #6: CODE RED
Create a secret code. Whether it be a word or phrase, make sure it fits the potential situation you will be in. Be sure to communicate this code to family, coworkers, and supervisors. An example could be, “Hi! This is Amanda. I’m with ACME at the Main Street listing. Could you email me the RED FILE?” This will signal that you are in danger to those who know your distress code, but not alarm the threat if they are listening in on your conversation.
Client Tip #7: Charge Up
Try to have a full phone battery when you meet with a client. Or make sure it is in the process of charging.
Real Estate Agent Cyber Safety Tips
Cyber Tip #1: Who are you Talking to?
Even with Caller I.D., you should never let your guard down when it comes to talking over the phone. Scammers can call claiming to know you and share some personal information. If someone calls you, even knowing your name, and starts making unusual requests, you need to stop talking and hang up. Scammers can use your reactions and replies to compile more information from you. A tip to help with this is asking them about previous conversations you had. If they don’t have any recollection of the past conversations, they are most likely a scammer.
Cyber Tip #2: Be Aware of Adware and Malware
If a message, with an unfamiliar logo, on your computer pops up stating that a virus is on your computer or that it found suspicious activity, ignore it. They are trying to get you to download their “virus protection software”, but it will give your computer viruses. Once your computer is down, they will get access to you and your client’s personal information.
Also be aware of any suspicious emails stating that you need to login to your account or pay off a balance due. Even if the logo is familiar, it is always better to login or pay on the website directly.
Seller Safety Tips
Seller Tip #1: Open House Safety
Your open house isn’t over till it’s over. Never assume that everyone has left the premises when the open house closes. Check all the rooms, the backyard, any places that a person could hide before you lock up your doors. As you check, be prepared to defend yourself.
Seller Tip #2: Hide your Personal Information
When having an Open House, do not leave any personal information out in the open such as mail, bills, or any passwords. Lock down your computer and take anything personal out of sight and preferably out of the house. If you don’t have anywhere to take them, you could always lock them up in a closet or safe.
Seller Tip #3: Be Careful when Depositing
If you are taking a large cash deposit to the bank or out of the bank, be aware of any loiterers or strangers lurking around the bank lobby or parking lot. Try to use a buddy system when transporting large sums of cash or use police/security escorts.
Seller Tip #4: Thief Awareness
Thieves have been known to visit open houses just to see if the seller left anything valuable behind. So, if you plan to have an open house, hide your valuables, or lock them away. Things to lock up include, jewelry, credit cards, cash, fur coats, crystals, keys, and even prescription drugs.
Seller Tip #5: Rely on Good Neighbors
Tell your neighbors about open house events you might be hosting. Ask them if they can keep an eye and ear out for anything suspicious.
For more tips on how to stay alert and safe as a real estate agent, visit nar.realtor/safety to learn more.