There's alot of talk these days about agent safety. I've noticed that as the economic crunch goes on, crime is on the rise. Being near the metro Atlanta area, the daily news is full of tales of robbery, home invasions and the like. Recently, a couple in the metro Atlanta area robbed three different real estate agents within 2-3 days. Why? Agents are not being as safe as they should be.
I know there are many 'macho' men reading this and thinking that "This is for the women." Did you know that statistics show that more MEN are actually killed in robberies than women? So Listen Up!
Living and working in Dawsonville, GA is not like "the big city". Crime here is very low, and I could easily forget to be a safe agent. However, crime can occur anywhere at any time and you should always practice personal safety.
Here are some tips I learned at a recent safety class:
- Be alert! Know what's around you, and if you feel uncomfortable in a situation you should get out! I always say you should 'go with your gut'. If it feels like the twilight zone, it very well may be!
- Always, and I say ALWAYS, meet potential buyers at your office. Introduce them to someone else, make a copy of their ID, and have them fill out a Customer Information Sheet. You could take this opportunity to go over the Buyers Brokerage Agreement with them and ask them to take it home and bring it back to you signed upon your next meeting.
- Don't hold an Open House alone. In what other line of business do we advertise to the general public that we will be alone at a certain address, at a certain time? It's like saying to criminals.."I'm here, come get me!". Find someone to sit the open house with you. If your seller pressures you, just tell them it's company policy for an agent NOT to sit an open house alone. They will have to wait until you are able to schedule someone to be with you.
- Develop a code distress signal with someone in your office or a family member. If you feel scared or intimidated, simply inform your customer that you need to make a quick call and say to your contact person " I'm at such and such address and I forgot the red folder. "
- Always drive your own car, and let the customers follow you. A man, a woman or even a couple can be a threat to you once you have them in your car, and they can control you. Remember to NEVER park in front of their car. Let them pull into the drive ahead of you. Park on the street if you must.
- When showing the home, don't lead them. Stay behind them, and let them explore the home in front of you. Always keep yourself between them and the exit door.
- Avoid going into areas where you could become trapped such as basements, attics, or small rooms.
- Most importantly, have a plan for personal safety and be prepared to use it!
Personally, I do not feel comfortable carrying a gun. And if you do, make sure you have a license to do so and that you know how to use it! I have always carried a stun gun in my pocket, but I realize that to use such a device requires the perpetrator to be right upon you. It's safer to have something that reaches out at least 8-12 feet.
I recommend Pepper Spray. NOT MACE! Studies have shown that mace is not effective on people under the influence of narcotics or alcohol. The chemical agent of Pepper Spray will automatically close the eyes of someone, even if they did not feel the pain. So, even if they still want to come after you, they will not be able to see. You can purchase large or small canisters of Pepper Spray. The one I use goes on my keychain, which usually remains in my hand when I am out of my car. The canister types come with clips that you can easily attach to your belt or pants. These also come in handy when walking or running. Pepper spray is effective on dogs and other animals. If you are unsure about which Pepper Spray you should purchase, check with your local Sheriff's Department Safety Officer for a recommendation.
Don't take chances, no sale is worth risking your life!
Kimberly Wilson, Your Available Dawsonville Real Estate Agent! Looking Out For Your Safety!