When we think of high-risk jobs, we think of telephone pole repairmen, construction workers, skyscraper window washers, lion tamers, and so on. We don’t think of realtors. And yet realtors put themselves at high risk every day: meeting strangers by themselves at otherwise empty locations at all hours of the day and night; holding open houses where literally anyone could walk in; handing out their personal information to strangers who may or may not be potential homebuyers; even letting strangers get into their car. There have been at least three highly publicized cases of female real estate agents being murdered, and countless other reports of minor assaults and robberies.
Fortunately, there most definitely are some things you can do to keep yourself safe as a realtor. Here are some safety tips to help you navigate and survive the different dangerous aspects of your job.
1. When Meeting New Clients
If you’re meeting a client for the first time, you don’t have to make them feel like a criminal, but you should take a few precautions just in case they are one. Have them meet you at your office first and ask for photo identification (preferably a driver’s license) and make a photocopy of it. If your client balks, tell them it is company policy and that it’s a requirement before being shown a home.
Introduce your client to other people in the office, if possible. The more people that have seen them and might recognize them in a line-up, the less likely they are to try anything.
Finally, try to get the make, model, and license plate number of your client’s car. Again, you can tell them it’s a requirement for safety purposes. Keep all this information in a prominent place so your coworkers will know where to find it if they need to find you.
2. When Showing a Vacant Home
First, show the home in broad daylight. Do not show homes late at night after the sun has gone down. Darkness gives would-be attackers a chance to hide and catch you off-guard.
Second, try to find someone to go with you to show the home. The presence of a male coworker, friend, or spouse can intimidate a potential attacker and make them think twice about attacking you.
Third, if you must show a property by yourself, make sure to let everyone know where you are going, who you are with, and what time you expect to be back. This includes bosses, coworkers, friends, and your significant other. You can even leave a note with these details so that they in writing.
When you arrive, take a good look at the exterior of the house. Are all the doors and windows intact and tightly closed? If not, there may be a squatter inside the home. If you discover a squatter, immediately leave the house and call the police. Do not put yourself at risk by approaching the squatter.
3. When Showing Properties
Before showing a property, introduce yourself to some of the neighbors and let them know you’ll be showing the property nearby from time to time. The more people who’ve seen you, the more likely they’ll remember you if asked.
Stow your purse, car keys, and other valuables somewhere out of sight so potential attackers have less incentive to try and rob you. Keep your cell phone hidden, but on your person at all times in case you need to make an emergency call.
Again, try to find a partner to go with you so you don’t have to show the property alone. This rule of thumb applies even if you are showing the property to a couple. Several famous criminals and even murderers have worked in conjunction with their significant other, all the while appearing to be a perfectly sweet and normal couple on the outside.
Avoid entering enclosed areas of the house, like basements, laundry rooms, or closets. It’s perfectly fine to stand in the entranceway and answer questions from there while your client or clients explore the home on their own. If you must enter a room with a client, let them go first, and remain in the doorway yourself. Never allow the client to be behind you. Doing this is for safety as well as courtesy.
If at any point during the showing of a property, you get a funny feeling or a sense that something is not right about the client(s) or the situation, listen to your gut. It’s okay to make up an excuse to exit the situation safely and immediately.
4. At All Times
For greater security (and peace of mind), carry a personal safety device with you at all times, like our Topps Security Key Fob. The Topps Security Key Fob comes with a charging device and features a quick-release so you can detach it from your keys to charge it at night. You can push the button in the event of any problem, and emergency services will be alerted of your location right away. Keep the fob charging by your bedside at night, and you’ll have easy access to emergency services in the event of a break-in or home invasion.
The Topps Security Key Fob is an excellent resource for realtors because it’s discreet, simple to use, and offers immediate help in the event of an assault or robbery. If you can’t take a buddy with you to show a house, the Topps Security Key Fob will keep you safe.
If you’re a realtor, don’t be intimidated by the dangers of your job. Take pride in what you do and make sure your back is covered. Topps can do that for you.