One often overlooked, but extremely important topic to consider as many first-time agents get a real estate license over the summer is Safety. Realtors, especially women, are often the target of violent attacks carried out by those posing as clients who want to buy a home. Take steps to safeguard against an assault of any kind. The very nature of the real estate business is risky because you are often in sequestered locations with strangers. Robbery is the main crime perpetrated against unsuspecting agents. That is why it is extremely important to refrain from wearing expensive jewelry or carrying a lot of cash. Driving an expensive car may be a green light for criminals if they assume you lead an opulent lifestyle.
As a Realtor, safety is paramount because you make yourself a target by going about blindly without taking stock of where the client is at all times. To sell a home is the primary objective, but never walk in front of a potential buyer; let him lead the way as you point out various features.
Remain alert throughout the showing. If anything seems off, leave immediately, using any excuse, whether plausible or not. Park your car on the street rather than in the driveway. Unscrupulous people can take advantage of the situation and block you in intentionally. Pay attention to your instincts. Safety overrides a sale any day. Besides personal safety, mindful awareness will help you spot potential scams.
It is a good idea to meet first-time clients prior to showing a property. If you work from a home office, plan a meeting at a neutral location, such as a coffee shop. At this time, gather as much information as possible about the client, such as name, address, telephone number, and driver’s license. Even dotting all the I’s and crossing all the T’s does not preclude a potential attacker from concocting a devious plan.
Let someone else know where you are going and with whom. Do not be embarrassed to let the client see you snapping a picture of his or her license plate and driver’s license. Send them to a trustworthy person, either in the office or at home.
Take a class in self-defense. You not only learn the mechanics of defense, but also how to spot dangerous situations and possibly avoid them. Acting speedily and sensibly under pressure may save you from an attack. If it becomes necessary to physically fend off an assailant, this is no time for timidity. Assertiveness and strength are the best weapons.
Try not to sit an open house alone. Ask another agent, a friend, or family member to accompany you. Several alert devices are on the market that contacts police directly at the press of a button, but what should you do until the police arrive? Use pepper spray, or a taser, or whatever you can quickly put in your hands. Keep a car key or house key handy and use it to gouge eyes, tear the face, or gash the throat. Be ruthless. You may literally be fighting for your life.
Social media is most often used to market a home for sale. Advertising a vacant house or your own address, if you work from home, is fodder for those who are trolling the internet and trying to set up a situation where they have the advantage.
Safety conversations should be a part of industry meetings, and policies should be in place to help keep agents safe. If they are not, you have the right and the responsibility to keep yourself out of harm’s way. When you go to meet a client, make it a habit to include whatever tools that are in your arsenal, and never take anything for granted. Keep conversations with potential clients businesslike, and do not reveal anything about your personal life. Safety first!