The practice of real estate can be risky. Think about how often you meet with people that you don’t know anything about. In fact, you may not even know their real names! Safety should always be on the forefront, and your safety protocols should really focus on prevention. Here are some real estate agent safety tips to consider.
We Often Fail to Focus on Prevention
One of our agents recently told us a story about showing a house to a stranger. She received a call regarding her listing; it was a potential buyer who couldn’t make the open house and therefore requested a private showing. The home was occupied, but it would be empty during for the showing. All the agent had was a name and phone number, with no way to tell if it was truly legitimate. The agent came up with a plan to text her husband the buyer’s license plate number as soon as he arrived, and to text again once the showing was over (so he would know she was safe). Her husband commented that the plan would only help catch someone who has done her harm but not actually prevent a crime in the first place! This was a big eye opener. How often do your safety plans fail to focus on prevention?
You’ve probably heard tips about letting others know where you’ll be, calling the office with code words, etc. These are all great, except that they don’t necessarily prevent crimes from occurring. Is it possible that you wouldn’t even have time to call the office to alert them that you are in danger? When you look at past crimes against real estate agents, have you thought about what safety protocols failed them?
Preventative Real Estate Agent Safety Tips
Instead of relying on information that may help solve a crime committed against you, let’s focus on how you can avoid being a victim in the first place. Here are a few preventative real estate agent safety tips to consider.
So much business takes place over the phone, email and text messaging nowadays. The fact is, anyone can create a dummy email account or obtain a burner phone. You should focus on verifying identity by some other means, for your own protection. Here are a few ideas:
- Verify Employment – One idea we came across is to ask for a person’s employer (through casual conversation of course),… and to actually call that company to verify.
- Check Social Media Accounts – Almost everyone is on Facebook. Run a search for the customer’s name and see if you can track them down. Social media accounts can tell you a lot about a person!
- Reverse Lookup Phone Number – There are websites that allow you to enter a phone number to lookup the name associated with it. If the name found does not match the one you were given, treat this as a red flag.
- Copy Driver’s License – Ask for a copy of a prospect’s driver’s license before agreeing to meet with them. Make it known that you provide this information to your office for safety purposes.
- Check Sex Offender Registries – It’s not a bad idea to check names against local sex offender registries.
Use the Buddy System
Sometimes it’s simply best not to attend a showing alone. Consider taking a fellow real estate agent with you or even have a friend or family member wait for you in the car. Seeing a second person at the showing may discourage someone from committing a crime since they are less likely to get away with it.
Don’t Be Scared to Walk Away
You often hear that it’s feast or famine when practicing real estate. All agents hate to turn away business, which can lead you to ignore obvious warning signs. When it comes to your safety, don’t be scared to walk away. If you’re dealing with a difficult or suspicious customer over the phone, it’s okay to NOT agree to meet with them. If you’ve arrived at a property and feel uncomfortable, it’s okay to make up an excuse. You can enter the wrong lockbox code or pretend that you have the wrong key. You do not need to enter a home if you feel unsafe!
Don’t Assume You Are Safe
It is important to never let your guard down. It’s not always complete strangers that commit crimes. Sometimes it can be someone that you have met with several times before, someone that you have worked with before on a purchase/sale, or someone that you know through a mutual friend. Crimes against real estate agents across the country have shown that anyone can be a danger. Never assume that you are safe and never let your guard down!
More About Real Estate Agent Safety Tips
The above are just a few real estate agent safety tips to consider. For additional safety tips and ideas, sit down with your broker and other agents in your office to brainstorm. Look at past cases of crimes against real estate agents and review the warning signs and protocols that may have helped. By being vigilant about safety, you can protect yourself and your colleagues from becoming a victim of a crime.