Working in real estate comes with its own set of safety risks. After all, the everyday tasks that agents do – such as meeting new clients, driving people they have never met before in their car, holding open houses, and showing properties – can expose them to a great deal danger. Unfortunately, it has taken tragic events such as the murder of Beverly Carter to shed light on the importance of realtor safety.
Due to the nature of the work, most of the risks aren’t going away anytime soon, but there are numerous steps you can take to protect yourself.
- Research your prospects. It’s always smart to meet prospects at a public setting such as your office or a coffee shop prior to taking them to showings. However, meeting them in a public place is not enough; you also should do your research on them. Make a point of getting a copy of their driver’s license to verify their identity. Also be sure to vet them on Google and social media sites.
- Get to know the neighborhood — and neighbors. Before you list a property in a new area, make sure you are familiar with the neighborhood. Find out where the local police and fire stations are located, and check to make sure you have cell phone reception. Go one step further and introduce yourself to the neighbors and invite them to your open house.
- Have an exit plan. It’s ideal to bring a partner whenever possible when you’re showing properties or holding an open house. But in the event that you find yourself showing a property alone with a stranger, make sure you have an exit strategy. Know the floor plan and where potential escape routes can be; also consider any vulnerable places. Be sure to bring your cell phone and have it fully charged. Better yet, bring along a portable charger.
- Don’t forget about driving. Given the amount of time you spend in your car, it’s important to take safety precautions. Take routes that are well-lit. Make sure to park in places where you’ll be able to exit easily. Don’t drive clients you’ve never met before.
- Make sure someone always knows where you are. Whenever you go out to showings or open houses, make sure a colleague, family member or friend knows your client’s name and contact information as well as the address you’re at and the estimated amount of time you expect to be there. Have an emergency plan in the event that you are unreachable and don’t return within a given amount of time.
- Take advantage of technology. There are now a number of apps and tools available to get you help in emergency situations, such as the Homesnap Safety Timer and Distress Alert; other options can be found here.
Above all else, it’s important to trust your gut. Use your intuition and if you have any doubts or a concerns about a situation, listen to them.