Much has been said about the safety issues real estate agents face when dealing in a professional capacity with people they’ve never met before. Any time an agent is touring an empty property with a total stranger, there are certain risks that are inherent to the situation.
While practicing common sense and adhering to standard safety practices are a given, perhaps there is more that can be done. For example, there may be some lesser-known safeguards that can be taken.
Here is a quick list of ideas to consider:
#1 Familiarize yourself with the latest in security technology.
There are a number of safety-oriented apps—such as those from React Mobile and Agents Armor—that are geared toward the real estate professional.
#2 Use an ID verification website.
These sites, such as SecureShow.com, provide a process for sharing basic personal information, ID credentials, and photos before setting up a face-to-face meeting.
#3 Always meet in your office first.
It’s a simple idea, but meeting at your office before showing the property goes a long way toward screening for legitimate buyers. This safeguard gives you a chance to conduct a brief personal interview that might reveal a “red flag” or two. Better yet, always urge buyers to get fully qualified by your loan originator. The effort and time will serve to discourage opportunistic actions.
#4 Prepare for "unusual circumstances".
Be suspicious when odd situations arise, such as unexpected “guests” tagging along for a showing or groups who arrive just after the closing time of an open house. In some cases, individuals might drive up to a property and request a tour just as the prior showing is ending. Insist on an in-office meeting first.
#5 Be ready to act.
Don’t take your safety for granted. Have an escape route in mind and consider taking other preventive actions, like wearing “fast” shoes, taking self-defense classes, or carrying pepper spray.
#6 Know the neighborhood.
Be familiar with the location of police stations and where the busiest streets are relative to the property’s location. Have a good sense of where open restaurants, gas stations, and retailers are in the vicinity. Finally, be aware of poorly lit walking paths that are too isolated and dark alleys that might trap you in a dead end.
#7 Have a code word for a rescue call.
It’s always smart to have someone you can reach by phone during a showing. Set up a code word that means “SOS” in order to request assistance without the client realizing a signal has been sent. Perhaps, simply say “I’m sorry, another agent with buyers is on his way from our office right now.”
Better yet, instead of relying on any one, single method, use multiple approaches to ensuring your safety and that of your clients. Nothing could be more important.