Realtor Safety - Be Careful Out There - 1

Real Estate Broker/Owner with Cornerstone Business Group Inc 0225086119

Very few things concern me more than when one of my agents goes on a showing. There are ways to improve your ability to be safe in that environment. I've posted a few Realtor safety blogs over the past 8 years. This is an annual one. 


September is Realtor Safety Month, and it's a good time to reflect on how we conduct our business. I tend to be a pretty lighthearted person. Actually, I think life is pretty funny, and I generally find humor in most things, but there is one thing I’m totally serious about. It’s Realtor safety.  Realtors are a uniquely vulnerable group of professionals when it comes to safety. Think about it. You meet a stranger, he asks you to go an empty house two miles down a dirt road out of cell range and you go along without a care in the world. Well, it would be nice if that scenario was an excited first time home-buyer looking for a super deal on a country foreclosure. Unfortunately, that is not always the case. 

At the risk of sounding paranoid, every Realtor needs to have a set of mental guidelines he/she uses when showing property. I wish every client was like the overwhelming majority of my clients.  I’m blessed with great clients, but I also know we live in a dangerous world, and everyone does not have the best intentions. With the growth of the use of the internet in the real estate market, more opportunities are rising for predators to find vulnerable Realtors. I get a few solicitations every week that are bogus.They could lead to financial loss, or they could lead to physical danger. Predators know that Realtors are easy targets. There has been an average of 17 Realtor homicides per year from 2003 - 2012. You don't want to be a target.

While I was in a recent real estate class the topic of Realtor safety came up, and here is the advice I gave the class hopefuls just entering the market.            

                                                    Meeting New Clients

●    Always meet first-time clients in your office for an interview before going
 out to look at property.    
●    Take an hour or more to get to know them, their story and their needs. Take notes that you will leave in your desk in the office. Make sure names are attached as well as any concerns you may have when speaking with a first-time client.
●    If you’re going out with a new client for the first time, make sure your office knows where you’re going and when you expect to be back.  Make sure the client is standing there when you alert your broker, office receptionist or whoever of your plans.  If the client isn’tthere when you leave for the appointment make sure when you meet your client that you greet him and say, “Oh, hang on a second, I need to check in with the office.  I’m expecting a call and I need them to know where I am and when to expect me back.”
●    Have your office call you periodically to check on you. Make sure you speak loudly enough that your client knows it's your office and not one of your kids who can’t find the snacks in the pantry.  In that conversation, tell your office staff where you are again.  Make sure it’s loud enough that the client hears it.                
●    Have your first time client leave a copy of his/her driver's license with the receptionist.  You can tell him you always do that when you take on a new client. At least that way he will not feel singled out.

    I get a lot of resistance from Realtors on this one, but it may well have saved me from a difficult situation. I had two guys come to my office last year. They wanted me to help them find investment property. Great! I was ready to get started. I interviewed them, and during the interview I started to feel a sense that something wasn’t right. My radar is always on, so if I notice anything that seems out of the norm, and I pay attention. During the interview, one of them said, “You look like you can take care of yourself. I bet nobody messes with you, do they?”
    I thought that sounded like a strange comment and question, but I set it aside and responded with a short quip and moved on. We looked at a number of houses on the internet and then made our plan to go look at them in person. Just before we headed out I told them I needed to make copies of their driver’s licenses to leave with the file so my receptionist would know who I was with. They immediately got nervous and canceled the trip. Suddenly they remembered an appointment they had in a neighboring town, and surprisingly enough they remembered that it was right at that time. Out the door they went, and I never saw them again. I have no idea what they were up to, but getting that photo ID stopped them cold.        

                                                           At a Property

●    When you go to a showing,  always open the front door, and usher the clients in ahead of you. When you’re opening the lockbox do it in such a way that you’re at a 90 degree angle to the door so that your clients are in front of you and not behind you.
●    Never go into a small room, such as a bathroom or laundry room, etc., with the clients.  Stand in the doorway if you want, but make sure you’re outside the door and have a clear path of escape.    
●    Always stay between your clients and an escape route. Don’t be the first one down a hall or up or down stairs. Always follow your clients. 
●    Always look for multiple exits when you enter a house.  
●    Keep your cell phone in your hand at all times. Touch base with your office for information periodically to keep that connection in the minds of your clients. That would be perfectly normal.
●    Never go into areas where you’re concerned about safety. Decline showings if you have any concerns about a known high-crime area.

●    Some agents choose to carry a weapon. Only carry a weapon you’re trained to use. A simple weapon that serves a useful purpose is a long metal flashlight. You may need it anyway, so it doesn’t look out of place on a showing. In relation to firearms, be sure you know how to use them. If you’re going to carry a firearm, make sure you have a conceal-carry permit. Most of all, don’t ever reveal a gun unless you’re willing to use it. There are a growing number of inexpensive stun guns on the market. Some are disguised as umbrellas and other items. That might be a good alternative to a firearm. Another option might be the Guard Llama. Guard Llama is a handheld safety device that with a click of a button alerts police to your GPS wearabouts. It also sends your photo and medical information to an emergency dispatcher. Not all concerns are about your physical safety. It may be about your health. 


  •                                                           You and Your Car

    ●    Always make sure your car is in good running condition and has plenty of fuel.  
    ●    As stated before, take your own car.                           
    ●    Never park your car in a place where it can be blocked.  
    ●    Always lock your doors as soon as you sit down in your driver’s seat. Make it a habit.
    ●    Never park in a dark area.

    This list could go on and on, but you get the idea, and really, these are simple life lessons.  A lot of these things would be just as true at the mall as when you’re showing a house. Be safety conscious. Be conscious of your surroundings at all times, and be aware of your clients. Always maintain situational awareness. Most Realtors will never have a situation where any of this information will be critical, but every year some don’t survive. Your safety is your responsibility. And like the shift captain on Hill Street Blues used to say at shift start, “Be careful out there.”

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Sam Shueh
(408) 425-1601 - San Jose, CA
mba, cdpe, reopro, pe

Before the invention of GPS and device map applications, realtors use printed maps for directions. Often they had to look at map and drive.  Coupled with distraction from clients riding, I am aware of two realtors who got killed on the job. I myself drove up a street curb on a turned street while looking at notes. Be careful you only got one life.

Sep 05, 2018 03:10 PM #12
Karen Feltman
Cedar Rapids/Iowa City, IA KW Legacy Group - Cedar Rapids, IA
Relocation Specialist in Cedar Rapids, Iowa

Safety is no joke.  We don't take it serious enough until something bad happens somewhere and we realize that we have been reckless at times ourselves.  Thank you for the tips!

Sep 05, 2018 03:16 PM #13
Tammy Lankford,
Lane Realty Eatonton, GA Lake Sinclair, Milledgeville, 706-485-9668 - Eatonton, GA
Broker GA Lake Sinclair/Eatonton/Milledgeville

The bulk of my "non productive" time is used for safety.  And I'm by no means complaining about that.  But as the broker when one of my agents needs to go on an appointment that a second person is needed for safety... be it a listing appointment or a REO occupancy check I'm their go with person. 

My agents also all have iphones and use the find friends app and share their location with me when they are showing property and give me their planned route.  If they go off schedule or route I check in to see if they are okay. It might not "save" them from intended harm.  But sometimes early knowledge of things gone bad can save someone.  I also make a safety class mandatory at least every other year for my agents.

Sep 05, 2018 05:09 PM #14
Kathy Streib
Room Service Home Staging - Delray Beach, FL
Home Stager - Palm Beach County,FL -561-914-6224

Mike- no commission is worth it!  And we cannot read these safety tips enough because it is too easy for any of us to let our guard down. If we ever feel the hairs on the back of our necks go up, we need to pay attention. I've seen some agents leave their phones on the kitchen counter while showing the house. Don't do that!!!

Sep 05, 2018 05:15 PM #15
Theresa Akin

This was years ago but another agent in the brokerage we both worked at the time had an appointment and just wasn't enthused about it. She had a "lot of information'' so to speak but he wasn't approved he was to get "some" money from his aunt's estate and a lot of bs. He was a walk-in the day before and they set up the appointment. It was at his aunt's townhouse. Imagine to his disgust when he opened the door in his bathrobe and I was standing with her. Big old mattress with satin bedding on the floor and candles all around. You could just see the wind go out of his sail. Told him I was shadowing her the whole month that included showings and other "appointments" including potential client appointment. After about 30 minutes I think he had enough of me at least and just wanted us out of there. We buddied up often sometimes just to "buddy up". When we got to the car she shook like a leaf in a hurricane. 

Sep 05, 2018 07:06 PM #16
Laura Cerrano
Feng Shui Manhattan Long Island - Locust Valley, NY
Certified Feng Shui Expert, Speaker & Researcher

It’s important to have your stuff together in a lot of ways just because of the complexities of relationships and especially in business

Sep 05, 2018 09:56 PM #17
Laura Cerrano
Feng Shui Manhattan Long Island - Locust Valley, NY
Certified Feng Shui Expert, Speaker & Researcher

Theresa Akin I think all your sensibilities are in the right place with everything. Stay safe.

Sep 05, 2018 09:58 PM #18
Richie Alan Naggar
people first...then business Ran Right Realty - Riverside, CA
agent & author

Wolves continue to shop vigorously at sheep clothing stores...Plebus Emptor or Let people aware....

Sep 06, 2018 06:19 AM #19
Terry McCarley
REMAX Realty Team - Cape Coral FL - Cape Coral, FL

Great advice - We can never be toocareful out there!!!

Sep 06, 2018 06:51 AM #20
Mary Hutchison, SRES, ABR
Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate-Kansas City Homes - Kansas City, MO
Experienced Agent in Kansas City Metro area

Good reminders!!  I don't think of these safety precautions as much as I should. Meeting someone for the first time at a house--yes, I am extra careful. Something can go wrong in a matter of seconds--I was carjacked once!!

Sep 06, 2018 07:26 AM #21
Jill Sackler
Charles Rutenberg Realty Inc. 516-575-7500 - Long Beach, NY
LI South Shore Real Estate - Broker Associate

This can never be repeated enough. Thank you, Mike, for the reminder during safety month and always. Glad it worked out ok for you. It's always upsetting to think of not just women, but men, in a vulnerable position.

Sep 06, 2018 07:37 AM #22
L. Scott Ferguson
Ask4Ferguson - Your House-SOLD Name in Real Estate - West Palm Beach, FL
Sunny Florida Real Estate Professional

These are awesome reminds and thanks for adding to have new clients make a copy of their ID at the office.  Good stuff!





Sep 06, 2018 09:27 AM #23
John Myers
Myers & Myers Real Estate, Inc - Albuquerque, NM
Your Trusted Real Estate Advisor

Congratulations on the featured article.  Lots of great safety tips for us all to keep mind.  Recently an agent called me and informed me one of my vacant listings had been broken in to and someone was living in the home.  No one was at the home when the agent entered the home.  Could have been a real safety issue.  I called the sheriffs department and they went into the home to make sure no one was in the house.  I secured the home and left.

Cime is every where and we all need to be cautious.


Myers & Myers Real Estate

Sep 06, 2018 03:40 PM #24
Janelle Ancillotti
Seneca Home Staging - Syracuse, NY
HSR Certified Home Stager, Syracuse, NY

Thank you for this helpful advice Mike. I face the same risks as a home stager when I meet potential clients at a property, especially vacant flips. I wonder how I could justify asking for a driver's license? Maybe other stagers out there could tell me how they have asked for a person's ID other than just looking them up online (which I always do first before meeting someone).

Sep 07, 2018 05:04 AM #25
Anne Corbin
Long and Foster - Lake Anna - Spotsylvania, VA
Serving Lake Anna & Central Virginia

I always back my car in at a showing so I can just jump into it and drive away. I don't want to waste time trying to back up or getting blocked in if I feel like I'm in danger.

Sep 07, 2018 06:41 AM #26
M.C. Dwyer
Century 21 Showcase REALTORs - Felton, CA
MC Dwyer-Santa Cruz Mountains Property Specialist

Geez! that incident you experienced sure sounds suspicious. Thanks for the reminders, and stay safe everyone. Includes considering where there’s limited cell service too.

Sep 07, 2018 08:44 AM #27
Jon Kolsky
Kolsky Realty & Management - Long Beach, CA
Licensed California Real Estate Broker

Mike Cooper ~ we have to be safe these days, great post! Please check out Homesnap safety timer, it is free for MLS participating agents

Sep 07, 2018 10:05 AM #28
Kevin Mackessy
Blue Olive Properties, LLC - Highlands Ranch, CO
Dedicated. Qualified. Local.

Good comprehensive list of safety tips.  You should always be diligent and follow your intuitions.  Good on you for immediately recognizing a particularly dangerous scenario in the moment.

Sep 07, 2018 03:09 PM #29
Jon Quist
Tucson's BUYERS ONLY Realtor since 1996

Good post. I sort of admit to being a non trusting type anyway, so I follow a lot of your tips when showing a house. And I have a conceal carry permit as well. While it may sound chauvinistic, I do think women should work in pairs if at all possible. Again, there are creeps out there.

Sep 09, 2018 12:35 AM #30
Pat Starnes-Front Gate Realty
Front Gate Real Estate - Brandon, MS
601-991-2900 Office; 601-278-4513 Cell

I adhere to these tips and use my built-in radar to keep myself safe. Am I perfect? No. But you can't be too careful. I'm not sure if you saw my post on my recent scammer, but I could see the red flags and followed up on it. I saved myself a lot of time and possibly more.

Sep 14, 2018 07:47 AM #31
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