As we get into the busy season of home buying and selling, it's important to take time to think about your safety, as a real estate agent, and the safety of your clients. Here are a few things to seriously consider as you meet clients for the first time and host open houses.
- First and foremost, let others know when you're meeting with new clients, showing homes or hosting an open house. Providing a timeline is also important. If you're showing houses after work, let someone know when you expect to be finished and check in with each other afterwards.
- Always have your cell phone on you and a portable charger. Know how to quickly make an emergency call.
- Consider carrying a KATANA Safety Arc which will allow you to send out a silent or piercing alarm if you find yourself in a unsafe position. It will also contact 7 people of your choosing and has a 24/7 response center. Optionally, you might consider putting pepper spray in your pocket so it's easily accessible.
- Don't go it alone. Whenever possible, have an assistant or another agent present when meeting clients for the first time, showing homes, or when hosting an open house.
- Avoid agreeing to a show a home, before meeting a client for the first time. Instead, have them meet you at the office first and make sure there are other agents in the building. Get a copy of their driver's license and get as much information about them as possible, in case you need to identify them in the future.
- During an open house, make sure all lights are on. Also, when showing visitors around the home, follow them into the room but stay near the doorway. Don't go all the way into a room unless absolutely necessary. Never be the first one to go into a room and avoid turning your back to visitors. Near the end of the open house, have a friend meet you and go through all of the rooms and closets together to ensure no one is in the house before you lock up and leave.
- Consider setting up a self defense training at the office for you and your colleagues. Learning basic self-defense skills could make a difference if you find yourself in a dangerous situation.
Always tell someone when you're going to show a home or host an open house and when you expect to return.
Remind your clients to be cognizant of their safety and the security of their belongings when selling their home.
- Before an open house or showing, have your clients store valuables off-site or in a safe. They should keep their mail out-of-sight, perhaps in a drawer, to avoid visitors having access to personal information.
- Remind clients that you will keep them informed of any showings. Let them know agents will use the lock box to access their home and they shouldn't show their home to anyone who knocks on their door. If they happen to answer the door to a stranger requesting to look around, they should lock the storm door or screen, then let the visitor know to contact their agent to schedule a showing.
As a real estate agent, it's important to take safety precautions and educate your clients on how they can practice safety too. Always have a safety plan in place, in case you find yourself in an uncomfortable or emergency situation. If you feel uncomfortable trust your gut -- excuse yourself to make a call, move toward the front door, and don't turn your back to the client. Call a friend and have them meet you at the house. In an emergency, call 911 without hesitation -- every second counts. Share safety tips with your clients and colleagues to increase the chances of avoiding a dire situation in the field. Stay safe out there!