Are you running out the door to meet strangers or are you stopping first to think?
There are many safety tips from the National Association of REALTORS®. Check it out at this link.
Don't think "it can't happen to you." Read the story about an Arkansas REALTOR and her very sad fate.
One tip that is practiced by many smart agents around the country is to CITO all callers. Come into the office! When they arrive you will ask for their mortgage pre-approval letter. If they don't have one, and/or if you can't call the lender to confirm it ("Just to make sure nothing has changed"...) you can tell them the only path is to postpone any showings until they have it. Why? It's a competitive market and sellers don't want to deal with unapproved buyers, so why waste time? Plus, many Agents just won't work with unapproved buyers simply because of the time-wasting factor for all parties. Remember, you are in charge of this situation. Not them! For the rest of the appointment you can discuss your buyer service presentation, explain the buyer agency agreement, and review a sample sales contract to prepare them for later.
Practicing safety doesn’t mean you’ll lose a showing to a good buyer! Good buyers will understand your concerns and policies and they’ll follow your procedures. If they won’t do it, they probably weren’t a good buyer anyway. If they balk at coming to your office first explain your office has a policy about personal safety and you aren't allowed to meet strangers. This works even better for men... "I know this sounds silly for a grown man, but we do this to support the women in our office."
The number one safety tip that can save your life and keep you from being victimized is to simply trust your instinct. Our bodies have a built-in survival mechanism that is hardly ever wrong. When you get that gut feeling telling you something is wrong, listen to it, act on it and respect it.
In the interest of being polite, we ignore that voice because we don't want to offend anyone. That is what gets us in trouble, being nice. Put your safety first and don't worry about offending anyone. You can always apologize later if needed.
As for Open Houses... never, never, never hold an Open House alone.
Here are some ideas to practice daily:
First! Download the phone app designed for your safety. The cost is covered for you by KCRAR. This app will notify law enforcement if you are in peril. Check it out here.
1. Screen new clients properly by meeting them in the office before showing them properties. This increases witness potential since criminals know they can be identified and do not want that. Have them fill out a client information form. Leave it where it can be found in case you are missing.
2. Make sure someone knows where you are at all times. This assures that someone knows if you are missing and can provide law enforcement officials with information to retrace your steps and locate you. Fill out an agent itinerary form and leave it in a place where someone knows where to find it.
3. When showing properties, never let your escape route get blocked. Always let your clients lead the way.
4. Keep your clients with you and in sight. That prevents them from stealing prescription medications from the medicine cabinet and any other valuables, such as checkbooks, bank statements, jewelry, etc. This also keeps them from leaving windows and door unlocked for later re-entry.
5. Get valuables out of sight. That means yours and your client's. Advise your clients to put away personal photos and store any items that are valuable and possibly dangerous (including weapons and guns). Leave your purses, laptops, PDAs in the car or at the office. Do not wear your expensive jewelry while showing or hold open houses. They make you a target.
6. Pictures can be dangerous. Save your glamour-shot and casual photos for personal use. Do not include your children and family in your promotional photos. Do not use property photos that show your seller's valuables. That makes it easy for criminals to case the houses online.
7. Do not mix your personal social media accounts such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn with your business accounts. Set up separate accounts and keep business information purely business. Beware of posting your location on any of these accounts. There are websites where anyone can find your home address. Criminals can use that information and your postings of your location to know the best time to burglarize you or to stalk you. Don't make it easy. Remember, there is no such thing as privacy online.
The following content is contributed by Tracey Hawkins, real estate agent safety expert, at Safety and Security Source.
A REALTOR® Cautionary Tale - Close to Home
REALTORS® can sometimes face more on-the-job risks than many other business professionals. Just ask Jennifer Halter, an agent with RE/MAX State Line at 10200 State Line Road.
Jennifer recently encountered a potentially dangerous situation that, thankfully, didn’t turn into one. When she received a sign call, she agreed to meet the potential buyer at a listing he saw on the Plaza later that day. Though she knows the safest way to handle a prospective client is to bring them into the office first, she didn’t want to lose the lead.
When she showed up, the caller was already there, but he refused to get out of the car and rolled down the window to tell her he thought someone was at the home. Jennifer went to the door and the homeowner was indeed present, but said they’d step outside for the showing. But when Jennifer went back out to the car, the man still wouldn’t get out of the car and said he didn’t want to see the property anymore – and took off.
“It was obviously one of those things where he didn’t want to see a property because there were other people there,” Jennifer said. “It was definitely weird. You don’t want to lose a lead by asking a caller to come into the office first, but you should definitely do that. If you get a driver’s license number and other people at your office see them, they’re less likely to do something. If it’s a sign call, you definitely need to get more information.”
Jennifer’s story is a good reminder that you should always ask new clients to stop by your office and complete a Prospect Identification Form, preferably in the presence of an associate. Get the client’s car make and license number. Photocopy their driver’s license and retain the information at your office. Legitimate clients do not mind this.
Don’t agree to meet the client at a listing before doing this – and if you do, make sure you’re not alone.
If you're looking for pepper spray, the KCRAR store carries pepper spray canisters and other safety items.