Safety is an important issue for realtors that is often overlooked. Realtors need to be aware of potential dangers both to themselves and their clients and take steps to protect themselves and their clients from harm. As an agent, you will frequently meet strangers, often be alone with people, and regularly travel to unfamiliar places.
All of these situations can leave agents vulnerable, so it is important to be prepared. Our list of realtor safety tips will help protect you and your clients from harm or potentially life-threatening situations.
1. Screen Your Clients
When new clients come to real estate agents, the agents usually help them without thinking about whether the person is a complete stranger.
Taking a few minutes to do some research on your potential client before meeting with them in person is a good idea, especially if the meeting location is out of the way or you’ll be meeting with them alone.
Searching the internet for information about the person you are meeting with, and looking at their professional profiles on sites like LinkedIn and Facebook can help you put a name to a face.
Maintaining a connection with your clients on LinkedIn is a professional way to keep in touch and makes you both feel more comfortable when you first meet in person. You can use LinkedIn to find out more about your client’s occupation and hobbies.
Even though you may feel like it’s creepy to know about your client, it can actually be beneficial. It can help you start a conversation, and it can also help keep you safe.
This is not a foolproof method of determining who your client is if they have a common name, but it will give you a better idea of who you will be meeting and working with.
Top Producer is a CRM that can provide you with insights about your clients. Top Producer’s product X-Factor Insights provides a 360-degree view of your clients by sourcing information from their social media like photos, locations, jobs, and interests.
If you want to understand your client better, know how to market to them, and keep yourself safe, you should get to know them better.
2. Meet in a Public Place
After examining the prospective client’s information, you’ll typically meet with them in person to go over their real estate needs. The first meeting should take place in a public setting so that both parties feel comfortable.
Ensuring you are in a safe location with other people nearby creates a safety net in case of an emergency. It also makes it easier for you to exit a meeting gracefully if you feel unsafe or don’t want to work with the prospect.
According to the National Association of Realtors (NAR), most real estate agents meet prospective clients whom they’ve never met before in either their office or a neutral location.
Arrange to meet at a coffee shop, store, or office nearby to make sure there are always other people around. Meeting someone at a local store or restaurant is also a good way to show them your neighborhood and community.
Some clients may encourage or pressure you to visit a listing or their home for a showing. It’s okay to tell them that you feel more comfortable meeting in a public place for safety reasons.
If a potential client is not respecting your safety as a real estate agent, they are not a client you want to work with.
3. Do Not Provide Access to Properties Without Your Presence
If you aren’t present for showings of your property listings, there are many safety issues that could come up, such as vandalism, robbery, burglary, and even someone being hurt.
You may also lose the chance to make an offer to your clients or generate new real estate business leads by not being present.
By creating an access plan with your clients, you can avoid this safety issue. You should make copies of your keys for yourself and buy a lockbox. You should not share the lockbox code with anyone, store it in a secure place, and update the lockbox code regularly.
Some states use an electronic lockbox that can only be accessed through a mobile phone if the user has proper real estate license credentials.
If a home is vacant, you can consider allowing access to other real estate professionals so that they can show it to potential buyers. Moreover, Supra will also notify the listing agent if the real estate agent does not return the key, as well as sending an alert.
4. Buddy Up With Colleagues for Realtor Safety
Many times, real estate agents work open houses together and help each other out with showings. Adding this additional safety measure will protect everyone involved. The buddy system, which involves having someone with you at all times, is an effective way to promote safety for realtors.
It is recommended that you find another agent at your brokerage to be your buddy. This will allow you to have someone to help you with your work. Each person is responsible for keeping track of the other person’s whereabouts so that both people can stay safe.
Sharing your calendar online or debriefing with a colleague about your day’s plans makes it easy to stay on top of your schedule. If you or a friend do not arrive at or leave work at the scheduled time, contact them to make sure they are okay and know where they are.
Your cell phone’s location can be shared with a buddy so they are always aware of your whereabouts.
If you are ever feeling uncomfortable about meeting a client in person, you can ask a friend to come with you to the public place where you will be meeting the prospect.
Have a signal ready to notify your colleague if you feel threatened and need to make an exit.
5. Walk Behind the Client and Stay Toward the Door
When showing a property, it is best practice to walk behind your client so they can envision themselves in the home. This is also beneficial for the realtor’s safety.
It is also beneficial to stay near the door or another exit point in case you need to leave quickly during a threatening situation.
If you’re comfortable with your client and have met with them multiple times, you can feel free to walk around with them. But if not, you should always be ready to leave. This can happen during an individual showing or during an open house where lots of people are coming and going.
6. Make Sure Someone Else Knows Your Schedule
This is probably the most important safety tip. A real estate agent is most vulnerable to attack because no one knows where the agent is supposed to be. Real estate professionals may have a lot of showings in a day.
It is recommended that you keep a Google Calendar detailing your real estate schedule and share it with others who may be interested or affected by your activities. This could include team members, colleagues, friends, and family. Those near you cannot tell you are missing unless they know you are actually missing – not just at an open house with an odd schedule.
7. Follow Your Gut
If you have a bad feeling about going to a show, listen to your intuition and don’t go. If you plan on going, bring someone else with you. Your gut usually tells you when something is wrong.
You probably know why you feel unsafe. The buyer seemed very interested in finding out if you would be alone. Maybe they seemed aggressive, impatient, or short with you.
If you trust your instincts regarding these types of situations, the worst outcome is that you will be slightly inconvenienced. You might need to put off seeing a client or you might just need to miss out on a single sale. If you don’t pay attention to your surroundings, you might put yourself in danger.
8. Have a “Panic Button” in Your Pocket
There are apps available on modern smartwatches and smartphones that allow you to automatically call a friend, family member, or the police department by pushing a button.
An app that allows you to easily call for help in an emergency situation can be very useful, particularly if you often find yourself working by yourself. It would be ideal if a real estate professional didn’t have to worry about anything. If you think someone is following you or if there is someone else in the house, you can send for help right away.
Safety apps can also help if you find yourself somewhere unexpected. Many safety apps come with GPS tracking. The agent’s ability to remember details about the places they’ve been is valuable because it’s easy to get mixed up when under pressure or when time is limited.
9. Watch for Sketchy Behavior
The potential buyer has brought three other people with them to the meeting. The prospective client has asked you to meet them at a second location.
If something is “unexpected” it could mean that it’s not right and you could be in danger.
There’s nothing you can do about some situations. Many people notice something strange about a potential client or the situation before it goes wrong.
They were surprised to find the door open. Someone showed up that they weren’t expecting. If you experience something that’s unusual, you should walk away according to safety protocols. It could be nothing. But it could be everything.
10. Don’t Show Up Unexpected
Being a real estate agent can be dangerous at times because people may see you as an aggressor.
As an agent, you need to visit properties frequently. There may be times when you go to a property expecting it to be vacant, only to find that it is not.
If you go to a rental property and find that the previous tenant is still living there, you may not be aware of it. If you schedule a showing for a property, you might find out that it has been foreclosed on.
Some agents have found themselves in awkward situations when they enter properties that are already occupied without realizing it. It is always best to book in advance and to make sure that you announce your presence when you arrive.
11. Be Aware of Your Escape Plan
When you are visiting a property, make sure to pay attention to the doors. You never know when something could get aggressive.
When showing a house to potential buyers, it is best to let them explore the house while staying near the door. Make sure you’re not blocked in by anything so you have a way to get out.
12. Be More Vigilant in Rural Areas
Rural areas are particularly dangerous. If you find yourself stranded in a remote location, you may have to wait a while before you can get back to civilization. If you work with rural areas often, you should consider joining a real estate agent safety network or bringing another agent with you.
Consider having a safety app installed on your phone that can contact your emergency contacts in case of an emergency. Choose a cellphone plan that has service in the places you frequent. Don’t go to a rural area at night. If you see people you didn’t expect, leave.
Stay Safe as a Real Estate Agent
The people in the real estate business are vulnerable because they go into private places and people’s homes often. Open houses generally involve a lot of strangers.
It is beneficial to take every safety measure you can. You’re likely to have a very long career. If you find yourself in a risky situation, it is important to know how to get out of it safely.
The majority of sellers and buyers you will come across will be honest and affable. Try to identify the clients who may be dangerous by looking for boundary crossing, excessive personal information, or any other behavior that makes you feel uneasy.