Real estate is a rewarding and satisfying career, but as with any other profession, it comes with its own hazards. In one tragic case in Arkansas, Beverly Carter told her husband that she was showing a house to a buyer. She was kidnapped and murdered by Arron Lewis and his wife Crystal Lowery in a ransom plot gone wrong. Agents can be robbed, assaulted, and become victims to any number of crimes. Real estate agents need to keep in mind some basic tips for their own safety and follow them stringently.
Meet at the Office
Having a contact come into the office is a “public” way to meet a new potential client. Realtor.org recommends meeting at the office first, before going out to show any homes. That way you can get a copy of their driver’s license and other forms of ID, and fill out a customer identification form. No prospect should be reluctant to provide this identification. Your coworkers can also see them face-to-face. These things will deter a stalker or thief, since they rely on remaining safely unseen to commit their crimes.
Guard Your Privacy
While you want to be available to your clients, your availability should not extend to giving out your home address, or private phone numbers. Likewise avoid using photos in advertising and publicity that show expensive jewelry, cars, or accessories that could set you up for a theft or burglary. Shred all documents going out of the office, or even better employ a document destruction company. This also means leaving personal information off your Facebook page, or limiting access to friends and family only.
Showing the House
The ladies probably know “date night” rules. One personal contact should know where you are at all times, even better let as many people know as possible where you will be. Let your contacts know where you will be going, when you expect to be back, and who you will be with. Do not at any time agree to a private showing unless the prospect has already been to the office and filled out the paperwork. Ideally, you could bring along a coworker as your assistant – and also your backup. Program 911 into your phones speed dial and establish a “send help” phrase. Even more important, when you are showing the house do not allow a client to be in your blind spot, keep them in sight at all times.
Especially do not show a property after dark if it can be avoided, leave curtains or shades open for the best visibility. If you must show a property after dark, take someone with you for safety, and let everyone know where you are going and when you expect be back. You need the sale, but it should never cost you your life or put your personal safety at risk. Take prudent precautions, and you’ll have a great career for years to come. Agents, feel free to share your own tips in the comments. We’re all in it together!