73% of HomeFinder.com homebuyers have told us that when shopping for a home, the neighborhood crime rate is the most important factor to consider. As part of our series on safety, we want to offer (1) some tips to keep you safe when you are showing your listings, and (2) some ideas to share with your customers who are in the process of shopping for their new home.
Safety Tips for Showings and Meeting New Prospects
Meeting new clients and having the opportunity to show your seller’s house is exciting, but there are several precautions to keep in mind, before you venture out on your appointments:
1.) Devise a system – Prior to your appointments with new customers, let someone know whom you will be with, where you are going, and when you will return. Schedule a time to check in on your cell phone, and devise a secret phrase to use if you are in trouble. Ex: “Please put the purple folder on my desk.”
2.) Meeting a new client – When meeting a potential client for the first time, request that he or she comes to your office first. Photocopy his or her driver’s license so your office can easily access in the event of any issues. This will also be helpful to have on hand in the future, when building your client database.
3.) Use your vehicle for showings – If this isn’t possible, ask that your prospects follow you in their own vehicle. Avoid getting into a new prospect’s vehicle.
4.) Know the neighborhood - Take the safest and most well lit route when driving to appointments. If it is a neighborhood that poses any possible threats, try to take a person you know with you. When you arrive at your destination, park in a well-lit area.
5.) Keep your cell phone accessible – Make sure your cell phone is charged prior to your appointments. Keep your phone in your hand or in a pocket during the duration of your appointment.
Safety Tips When Home Shopping
There are basic ways for you or your customer to do neighborhood research to ensure that they will feel safe in their new neighborhood:
1.) Collect crime data –Look for the areas that have the highest crime rates and check for sex offenders near the neighborhood using the state or federal registry. You can also obtain this information from local government agencies or the local police department.
2.) Evaluate the demographics – Use HomeFinder.com’s "View Neighborhood" feature to evaluate the area’s median household income and education levels. Compare this to the national average, and then consider what those characteristics say about the neighborhood relative to the characteristics that are important to you.
3.) Study the neighborhood - Drive through the neighborhood both during the day and at night to observe how well lit the area is, the maintenance of public property and signs of vandalism. Signs of neglect and disrepair imply lesser community restrictions and involvement, which may increase likelihood of crime.
4.) Talk to residents and neighbors - Ask them questions about Neighborhood Watch Programs, crimes the neighborhoods have experienced and their own security measures. Also ask about the communication between neighbors and the community as a whole.
5.) Evaluate the security of the home - Before buying the house, examine the security measures and possible points of entry for intruders, paying attention to the doors, windows, evidence of previous forced entry or if the house has any weak spots that could put your safety at risk.
Do you have any safety rules of thumb that you always follow? Share with us below or keep the discussion going at facebook.com/homefinderdotcom.