Safety is very important. Please read below for tips on how to make your job as safe as possible.
Safety Tips for Meeting with Clients
These tips can help you to identify potentially dangerous individuals and avoid threatening situations before they happen.
- Meet with customers/clients in the office before meeting with them alone. This allows you to identify and introduce the person to others in your office.
- Identify whom you’re working with before you meet them alone. Have them fill out a customer ID form, get a copy of their driver's license, get the make/model and license number of their car: Criminals don’t like to be identified. If someone is hesitant to provide identification or other personal information, this could be a red flag that he has bad intentions. If you feel uncomfortable asking these questions, you can state that it’s office policy for the safety of firm members. No one with good intentions should have a problem with this.
- Don’t allow customers/clients to ride in your car: Although it used to be common practice, allowing strangers into your car is a huge safety risk. You could be kidnapped, robbed, or murdered. Insist that others take their own cars. You can always make the excuse that you’re going to another appointment after you meet with them.
- Who, Where, When. Tell someone whom you’ll be with, where you’ll be, and when you’ll be there. Use an agent itinerary form: Make sure the customer/client knows you have shared this information. You’ll be less likely to be attacked if a criminal knows you’ll be missed and that they could be identified. The agent itinerary form can also help police find you if something happens.
- Always follow: Don’t go first into a home, basement, room, closet, or any other area where you could be cornered or pushed off balance and attacked. Insist that customers/clients enter the space ahead of you.
- Leave the front door open: When showing a property, leave the front door open while you’re inside with the client. When you enter each room, stand near the door.
- Watch out for intruders/squatters in vacant homes: Before entering a vacant home, walk around the outside and look for lights on in the house, extension cords, or windows propped open. These could be signs that a squatter or other intruder is in the home. If you see anything suspicious, call the authorities and ask them to investigate.
- Check all rooms: When entering a house, check all rooms and determine a possible route of escape. Make sure you could escape through a side or back door if necessary. Sometimes backyards have enclosed pools or fences that make this difficult.
- Secure hidden entries at open houses: Make sure the back door and all windows are locked.
- Always carry a fully charged cell phone: Keep your cell phone with you at all times and have 911, emergency road service, your office “buddy,” and family members on speed dial.
- Dress for safety: Wear comfortable clothing and shoes. It’s important to be able to move freely and even run, if necessary. Ditch those heels.
- Create a distress signal: Create a word of phrase that you share with those in your office and/or your family to indicate when you’re in trouble. It can be something as simple as, “Please pull my meetings list” or “Please pull the yellow file.” Remember to attach an action to the phrase, such as, “If I call and say, ‘Please pull the yellow file,’ it means meet me at the listing as soon as possible”—or whatever action you choose.
- Use the “buddy system": Have someone you can call for back-up if you’re threatened or feel uncomfortable. It’s a good idea to have a buddy attend open houses, too. Remember to also be a buddy for someone else.
- Don’t allow your car to be blocked in: Ensuring that you can access your car and flee is important if you’re being chased or feel threatened in any way.
- Remove yourself from the situation: Make an excuse to step outside for a phone call, and call for back-up, or pretend there’s an emergency and you have to leave. It’s okay if things are a little awkward or inconvenient. Your safety is the most important thing.
- Practice self-defense: Take a self-defense class or carry pepper spray. If you carry a weapon, make sure you know how to use it. Many people are injured when their own weapons are turned on them.
[Sources: Washington REALTORS® and National Association of REALTORS® “Safety Video 2010”; Georgia Real Estate Commission “Safety Awareness for the Real Estate Professional”; “Safety & The Power of Your Intuition C7857”, Basics & Beyond RE Institute]