September is National Real Estate Safety Month and many of our users happen to be realtors! Here are some useful tips that we wanted to share with our customers.
The Reality of the Realtor Life
Realtors are meeting strangers every day. While most of these strangers are simply looking to buy or sell a home, some have malicious intentions. According to the Federal Bureau of Statistics, 92 Real Estate related deaths occurred in 2016, up 44% from the year before.
Realtor Safety Tips
1. Realtors should research their new clients
If you are meeting your client for the first time, the ideal situation would be to have them come to your office. However, not all Realtors have an office and maybe the client is already at your listing on the other side of town.
Meet Me Here First is a movement, began by Sam DeBord, to change the industry standard and help protect his colleagues. Sam developed his website after hearing about the many realtors that had previous questionable encounters with new clients. You can use this tool to find safe meeting locations across the country.
Spokeo is another useful tool to help you get a better sense of your new clients quickly and discreetly. Do they have social media? Are they really 35-years old? Is their cell phone a pre-paid number? Do they have past assault records? These could all be red flags. It may be good to play it safe and avoid working with these clients. Get their name, address, and email address. From there, you can go to Spokeo.com and view all available records, including social media and court records (additional fees apply) . Focusing on social media and court records would provide the information you are seeking.
2. Realtors Should Always Have Their Phone
Having your phone available is key. Sandra Ware with Grubb & Ellis Co. was new to the real estate world when she was driving two men to view a home. She became uneasy as they neared the vacant property. She advised they go inside to take a look while she made a call. “I then called my office and told them to keep me talking and not to hang up,” Ware says. “I told them my exact location.”
Additionally, make sure that 911 is easily accessible. If you have to unlock your phone by drawing a complex pattern in order to make an emergency call, your dexterity may be worse in stressful situations. Consider changing the settings.
3. Realtors Should Avoid Basements and Attics
Basements and attics only have one way in or out. This limits your escape routes and decreases your chances of escaping a dangerous situation safely. Bring a partner that can accompany you when you have to scope out these areas.
4. Realtors Should Have a “Safe Word”
This goes hand in hand with having someone know your location when you are with clients. If you find yourself in an unsafe situation, move towards an area with multiple escape routes, calmly make a phone call to your office or the person that knows your whereabouts, and use the safe word in a tactful manner. “Can you bring me the red file?” Or, “I am at Bill’s house in Claremont and I forgot my red file. Can you bring it to me?”
5. Realtors Should Know Self-Defense
Take self-defense classes and follow up with refreshers. You’ll probably never have to use those skills, but having them can raise your confidence in handling potentially dangerous situations.
Using These Tips in Real Life
Linda Fercofini, broker-owner of Fercoini Properties Inc, has a story of her own. Linda’s client kept offering her drinks and invitations to join him in the attic. “Then, in the living room on the side of his chair, I saw the photos of women real estate agents circled in red from a local real estate magazine. That was it for me. I needed to think quickly and be cool. I started heading back to the kitchen, pretending to take notes. He excused himself to go the bathroom.”
Linda called her husband and asked him to bring her “red-file”. He already knew where she was because Linda left the client’s information on the table before heading to the appointment. Linda checked off many of the tips listed above and it may have just saved her life.
Trust your gut, do your research, and keep up with the latest ways to keep yourself safe. Brush up on these tips and review them on an ongoing basis. Don’t wait until it’s too late!