I'm tired of hearing about another real estate agent that was murdered, hurt or robbed while on the job. This is a tough business, especially when you are traveling around to vacant homes with unknown people. But, there are ways that we can take care of ourselves and protect ourselves on the field. Adapted from an article on Realtor Magazine, here are some of the main points I took away on how to protect ourselves in the real estate business.
Never do open houses alone.
This might be a difficult thing to do but partnering up for open houses really can protect both agents and the homeowners house. With two people protecting the house and monitoring people coming in and out, there's less of a chance that someone's going to rob the house or do something illegal.
Simply being alert and aware of your surroundings can really keep you safe. Be on the lookout for clues and definitely trust your gut. If something doesn't seem right or feel right, there's probably a reason. Make an excuse to leave if you're getting red flags and clues that something is just not right. Make sure that wherever you are in the house or on the property you have an easy route of escape. Don't lock yourself in any backyards or rooms and keep your phone close by ready to make a call if necessary. Have pepper spray on your keychain and always have a good exit plan in case things go south quickly.
Don't be distracted.
It's easy to get distracted when showing someone a house. If there are multiple buyers they can divide and conquer and set up a distraction in one area. Be aware of your surroundings and your clients at all times. Keep all your valuables on you or in the trunk of your car locked up, however, don't lock your car in case you need to make a speedy getaway.
Let someone know where you are.
In vacant homes, squatters are not that uncommon and can be very startling if you walk in on a house with uninvited guests. Call a friend or spouse and let them know the address of where you are going to be and that you're planning on calling them as soon as the appointment is done. If for some reason you don't call within the timeframe or check-in, your friend has been instructed to call 911 and give them the address.
Don't get lax on referrals.
Just because a client is a referral from a trusted source doesn't mean that this referral will be safe. These are people you have never met before and it's important to treat them as you would a complete stranger.
Take extra precautions with REOs.
Some electronic keys have a panic button that can dial several numbers and play a recorded message saying that you need help. Bank owned or distressed homes may be in neighborhoods with a high crime rate so visit these homes in the daytime and take extra precautions.
Simply being aware and trusting your guy has proven to be the most effective way to stay safe. Always let someone know where you will be and check in often. - Posted first on Linkedin