As a real estate agent, we put ourselves at risk on a daily basis. We don’t even realize it. Meeting new clients, showing properties, hosting open houses and chauffeuring clients are all activities that may compromise our personal safety.
In my opinion, real estate is considered a high-risk profession. Real Estate agents have no formal training when they meet new clients for the first time or they are showing a vacant home. As a real estate professional, we are constantly putting ourselves at risk. The industry is an open field for criminals.
Below are some of the most common tasks that real estate agents face on a daily basis. I have included some tips of how to safely execute these simple tasks while being proactive at the same time.
1.Entering Vacant Homes
Vacant homes are typically supposed to be an unoccupied premise. However, vacant homes may attract squatters or former tenants refusing to leave. These homes sometimes may be damaged and a common meeting place for criminals.
1. Inspect the exterior: Walk around the house. Make sure there are no broken windows and smashed doors.
2. Don’t confront a squatter: If a squatter is in the house, leave. Call the police upon departure.
3. Buddy system: Take someone with you.
4. Visit during the day: Make appointments during the day. Visiting homes at night makes it dangerous.
2. Meeting with a new client
Meeting with someone that you don’t know can be dangerous. A client may have called you off your website or your marketing materials.
1. Meet at the office: Get the new client into your office for the first time. This gives you a chance to screen the client.
2. Ask for identification: Always remember, those that don’t want to show you their ID have something to hide. It’s policy for us anyways to ask for ID anyways.
3. Showing a property alone
The bottom line is that you are showing a property alone to a complete stranger. It’s just you and your client.
1. Buddy system: Take someone with you
2. Don’t go into confined spaces: Avoid basements and attics. If the client wants to see these spaces, allow them to go there on their own.
3. Walk behind: Always follow being the client. This gives you an opportunity to exit first if you had to.
4. Create awareness: Let others know where you are. Let your coworker or a significant other know where you are and how long you are expected to be there for.
5. Make excuses: If you feel uncomfortable, tell your client that you have to make a phone call or that another agent is on their way.
4. Open Houses
You opened the doors to a house that everyone is invited to. Criminals are also part of this invitation.
1. Sign in Sheet: Have a sign in sheet ready for guests when they walk in. Tell them that they are required to sign in for liability reasons. Those that do not fill out the sign in sheet may have something to hide.
2. Buddy system: Host the open house with another coworker
3. Neighbours: Introduce yourself to the neighbours the week of the open house. Let them know that you will be there. Create awareness.
4. Watch for patterns: Thieves will come to an open house at the end. “Would be” buyers will distract the agents as thieves steal valuables in the home.
5. Remove valuables: Keep all of your expensive belongings in your car. Tell your clients to ensure that they also store away their personal belongings. Keep your cell phone on you at all times.
5. Transporting clients in your car
The thought of chauffeuring buyers in your car is extremely dangerous and carries with it serious consequences. As real estate agents, we put strangers in our cars all the time and don’t think anything of it. There is a risk of being robbed, your car being stolen or thrown off to the side of the road.
1. Drive separately: Have the client follow you in their own car. If you have to take one car, ensure that you drive.
2. Parking: Park in an open and public space. Park in a location where you won’t be blocked in and where you can get out quickly. Park on the street or curb where there is pedestrian traffic.
For real estate agents its all about security. As agents we must add layers of security to our everyday interactions with clients to ensure a safe environment. Creating awareness at open houses, implementing the buddy system and even asking for identification are all extra measures that we must take to protect ourselves.