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Industry Insights

Staying Safe as an Agent

January 13, 2015

It’s always been important for agents to keep safety top of mind, especially when working alone. Unfortunate recent events, including last week’s kidnapping attempt in Elk Grove, have made it clear that being prepared and proactive about safety is more important than ever. Consider these tips from the International Self-Defense Institute in San Mateo to stay safe whether setting up an open house, meeting with a client, or giving a tour.

  • Meet at the office first. Get new clients on your territory before you visit any property with them so you can learn more about them and collect personal information about them for your files.
  • Ask for identification. The public is used to having their identification checked, so don’t be reluctant to ask because you’re scared you’ll offend someone. Tell clients it is policy that all clients’ driver’s licenses are photocopied.
  • Introduce them to a coworker. When you meet them at the office, introduce them to at least one other person in your office. Criminals won’t like that others have seen them for identification purposes. Make eye contact with them.
  • Use the buddy system. There’s always strength in numbers. Whether you bring a coworker, spouse, or even your German Shepard, avoid going alone. When would-be assailants see two people at the front door, they’ll be less likely to go in. If you must go alone, have 911/the local police station on speed dial on your cell phone and keep your phone on you at all times.
  • Don’t go into confined places. Avoid basements and attics- it’s too easy to become trapped. Instead, know the selling points of these rooms and remain in the foyer on the first floor with the front door open as the buyer tours these areas. If you must join them in each room, always stay by the door, leaving doors open so you can flee more easily if necessary.
  • Walk behind. Let potential buyers take the lead when exploring a home, with you always following behind.
  • Let others know where you are. Tell them were you are going, when you will be back, and who you are with. Better yet: share this information while the client is with you so they know someone else knows where you are.
  • Have an excuse. If you feel uncomfortable, tell the person your cell phone went off and you have to call the office or let them know that another agent with buyers is on his or her way.
  • Introduce yourself to neighbors. Let them know you’ll be showing the house so others know that you are there.
  • Watch for patterns. At an open house, note any patterns in arrivals, particularly near the end of the open house. One common scam: thieves come near the end of the open house, working as a team. They have “buyers” distract the agent as others steal valuables in the home. Trust your instincts if you feel uncomfortable with something.
  • Stow away your valuables. Never leave your purse, laptop or wallet unattended on the counter in plain view. Keep them in the trunk of your car. However, always keep your cell phone on so you can call for help if you need to. Also, before the open house, tell your clients to put away all of their valuables, prescription drugs, and mail.
  • Watch what you wear. Only wear shoes and clothing you can run in. Avoid wearing expensive jewelry.
  • Protect your personal information. Use your cell number and office address in your marketing so it can’t be tracked back to your home address. Never use your home address or home phone number. Also, don’t reveal personal information about your children, where you live, and who you live with – you can still build a relationship with clients without revealing all of your personal information.
  • Drive separately. Have the client follow you from listing to listing. If you absolutely have to take one car, then you should drive.
  • Watch where you park. Make sure your car won’t be blocked in and that you park in a place where you’ll be able to get out quickly. Park on the street or the curb if possible. You’’ attract more attention if you run and scream when fleeing and it will be easier to escape than having to back out of a driveway.
  • Pay attention to your surroundings. Don’t get distracted by your cell phone or anything else. Be sure you know who is coming through the house and where they are.
  • Know the house. Walk the perimeter of the home before entering alone.
  • Be assertive. Don’t worry about being polite if someone is making you uncomfortable- let them know.
  • Be prepared. Have a flashlight that you can use to blind an assailant or use as a weapon. Be prepared with pepper spray or a taser. Just remember to take note of the wind direction if you are using it outside so you don’t harm yourself. If you don’t have a weapon, think about what you can use around you as a weapon (pen, purse, keys). You can also bring drop cams that wirelessly attach to your smartphone to monitor an open house and record what is going on.
  • Protect yourself physically. Keep distance from people. Focus on the face and groin when attacking- remember, you just have to buy enough time to get away. Self- defense classes are helpful ways to learn how to protect yourself.