It may surprise you to hear that some security experts consider real estate a high-risk profession. “High-risk profession” makes you think of high-rise construction workers and industrial manufacturing employees, not a friendly realtor chatting about curb appeal. But many industry processes and practices represent opportunities for thieves and predators.
Meeting strangers at odd times, driving them in your car, and entering empty houses are daily practices for most real estate agents. Check on how to answer client questions here. The staple of property showings – the open house – involves inviting strangers to wander around someone else’s house. Many of the common things agents do expose them to danger.
Real Estate Dangers
There are several customary practices in the real estate industry that can mean danger for agents:
- Vacant houses like foreclosures can attract thieves, squatters, and wildlife. Before entering, check the exterior for broken windows or doors. Call the police if you suspect a break in.
- First time client meetings are fraught with danger because you know very little about the person you’re meeting. First, meet at your office, introduce them to a coworker, and collect personal information like identification.
- Solo showings put you in an empty house with a stranger. It isn’t safe to go alone, so bring an assistant or co-worker. Avoid confined places and walk behind guests.
- Open houses can seem like a free for all where sincere buyers, snoops, thieves, and pick pockets show up at the same time. Have a sign-in sheet at the door where ID is required. Beware of thieve teams that distract the agent while one of them steals valuables.
- Provocative marketing photos of agents have caught the attention of criminals. Sexy clothes and poses can lead to trouble. Some agents don’t use photos of themselves in ads because it can be dangerous.
- Chauffeuring strangers around to houses in your car is extremely dangerous, so drive separately if you can.
Whatever the situation, there are some smart safety practices you can employ to keep yourself safe when dealing with unknown clients and customers:
- Buddy system: For open houses and touring vacant property, bring a second person along. Station one person at the door as a greeter while the second is a “floater.”
- Let people know: Tell your office where you are and when you should return. Inform the neighborhoods and your friends and family that you’re doing an open house.
- Smart phone: Have a charged phone on you at all times and have the local police and fire departments on speed dial.
- Daytime only: Don’t meet strangers or enter houses after dark.
- Non-confrontational: Don’t confront burglars or squatters. Leave and call the police.
- Be prepared: Bring your phone charger, emergency numbers, and information about first responder locations, crime stats, and recent break ins. Take a self-defense class and memorize a few techniques.
- No heels: Wear comfortable shoes you can easily run in. Also, avoid expensive jewelry and flashy clothes.
- Know the exits: Learn about all the doors, windows, and locks in the house. Also, make sure you can escape through the backyard.
- Let there be light: When you arrive, turn on all the lights and open the curtains and blinds.
- Observe: Be a people watcher. Keep an eye out for suspicious behavior and vehicles. Note the number of guests in the house and where they are generally.
- Walk behind: As you’re showing a house, walk behind the guest and give directions. Don’t go into a small space alone with someone.
- Security sweep: After the showing or open house, go through every room and closet to ensure everyone has left.
A lot of these are common sense safety precautions; you just have to remember to do them and make them a habit.
A little bit of knowledge can go a long way to safety and success. Grab a great opportunity to expand your knowledge with online real estate courses from 360training.com. An extensive on demand library of real estate training is just a click away.