By Regina P. Brown
It’s happened again! The dreaded violence against real estate agents scared us all when Realtor® Beverly Carter was kidnapped and killed in September. She met a prospective client at a vacant property. So we all learned some agent safety tips from that, right? Work in teams with a partner. Never be alone when working out in the field.
Apparently we didn’t all learn this lesson. In January, yet another real estate agent was kidnapped in a vacant home. Fortunately, the criminal (who is a registered sex offender) let her go after an hour. She’s counting her lucky stars, I’m sure. That was a close call. And it hits home for us working in the real estate field.
This agent was sitting in a vacant listing for a new home developer. We are also vulnerable when we sit at open houses alone:
When holding an open house for your listing, follow these 9 real estate agent safety precautions:
- Always bring someone with you. If you don’t have a team partner, your favorite mortgage lender will be happy to bring their laptop and qualify potential buyers. If not available, bring your spouse or a friend. They can keep you company during the slow times.
- Park on the street instead of in the driveway (this goes for regular showings as well). A favorite tactic is for the person to park behind you, effectively blocking any escape.
- Shorten the times of the open house; for example 2 hours instead of 4. Compacting the time period means that buyers will overlap each other, instead of being spread out during the day. Not only is this competition good for your seller, but having more people there simultaneously is good for your safety, too.
- Require guests to sign in. You can say “it’s our brokerage policy” or “the sellers require it for liability purposes”. Most people balk because they don’t want to be hassled by a salesperson. Overcome this objection by asking them to check a box if they do NOT want you to contact them in the future. Have them write down the name of their current agent, if they are working with one. And you can ask them to show picture ID for safety too.
- To make the sign-in more palatable and fun, buyers can sign into an open house app on your tablet! Have a door prize, such as a large, colorful gift basket, that you give to one lucky home buyer. That really gives them an incentive to register.
- Position yourself at the front entrance to the house. You can escape quickly if needed because you won’t be cornered in the back. Both you and your partner should stay within site of each other.
- Keep track of where people are at in the house. For example, if someone goes into an upstairs bedroom, make sure they leave before you lock up the house. Otherwise, you could unknowingly lock a thief in the house.
- Keep your cell phone in your pocket and safety apps ON at all times. Make sure your mobile phone is completely charged before going to the open house. If it’s being charged on the kitchen counter, for example, that won’t help you with an emergency from the living room.
- If something doesn’t “feel right” – GET OUT! Someone lingering around just a little too long? Spending a bit too much time upstairs by themselves? Don’t go and find them; get out of the house. Call the police if you are afraid. You’d rather upset a potential buyer than end up kidnapped — or worse.
Stay secure and always put your safety above a potential sale. By following these 9 real estate agent safety tips, we can help protect ourselves and thwart crimes against real estate agents.
What are your safety tips? Do you use a cool app? Let us know so we can share them with others and help keep all agents safe!