Some of the best parts of your job can also be the most dangerous—meeting new people, and touring empty houses. Use these real estate safety tips to help you stay safe as you do the work you love.
One of the most appealing factors about being a real estate agent is the freedom that the career can provide. Not being tied to a desk all day and meeting new people on a regular basis makes it fun and exciting. However, with those perks comes some risks that aren’t found in a traditional office job.
Real estate agents typically show homes alone with a client. Often times this is someone they don’t know and may have never met. This can put the agent in a vulnerable situation. It’s important that safety precautions are taken before and during appointments. Keep these tips in mind to stay safe while you enjoy a career that you love.
1. Don’t Provide Personal Details in Your Marketing
Your marketing materials should provide no personal information. Instead of listing your personal phone for leads to reachyou quickly, use a Google number, toll-free number or your office number:
“Rather than use your personal cell phone or home phone number—which can be typed into some Web sites to find your home address—consider using a toll-free number. This can’t be traced and prospects may appreciate the free call,” suggests the Massachusetts Association of Realtors.
Note that, with all three of the alternate options, calls can be forwarded to your personal phone, so you’ll still get every call that comes in. And, if you use a work-only cell phone that has a billing address that matches your office address, that’s an acceptable option.
The same rules go for sharing your address on marketing materials and social media. Always use an office or P.O. Box address whenever possible.
2. Carry a Personal Self Defense Weapon
To stay safe in the event that you’re in one of these situations, invest in a portable, non-lethal self-defense weapon. There are a wide variety of options available to you that can easily fit in a backpack, side bag or purse:
"The most common self-defense weapons include pepper sprays, knives, batons, and stun guns. Small, portable, and legal in most states, these home defense weapons can be kept in a nightstand or carried in a purse in case of an emergency," explain experts at The Home Security Super Store.
Pepper spray is one of the best options because you can protect yourself from a distance and then run when your spray has disarmed the attacker. When purchasing your portable self-defense item, ask the sales attendant to suggest a training opportunity or teach you how to use it. You’ll feel more confident protecting yourself when you’ve learned the basics.
3. Invest In a Safety Device
Wearable safety alert devices are discreet and easy to access, allowing you to alert the contacts you choose if an emergency or uncomfortable situation arises. One such device is the Wearsafe Tag. It clips onto your waistband or can be worn on a lanyard or keychain for easy access. After setting up a network with your smartphone contacts, all you do is press the button or tap the face of your smartwatch to send an alert if you feel you’re in danger or find yourself in an uncomfortable situation.
One of the main differentiators between Wearsafe and other wearable personal safety devices and Apps are Wearsafe's audio features. When an alert is sent, Wearsafe sends continuous audio from your phone to your network to help them understand your emergency. The Wearsafe Rewind feature also sends audio from 60 seconds before you pressed the Tag so your responder network can hear what led up to you sending an alert. This type of information is crucial for allowing your responders to decide how best to respond. The small device will also vibrate when you send the alert, as well as every time someone in your network receives your alert so you know that help is on the way. If you left your lanyard in the other room or the car, you can still send alerts with the paired Wearsafe smartphone app, keeping you safe no matter what.
4. Don’t Show After Dark—If You Can Avoid It
Your schedule as a Realtor® is dictated by the schedule of your clients that want to see homes, and sometimes by the seasons—shorter days in the winter means you do most of your showings in the evenings. Unfortunately, this is the most dangerous time to show if you’re meeting new buyers for the first time. As a basic safety precaution, avoid evening showings with new buyers and schedule these times only with those you’ve already met.
If you can’t avoid evening showings, plan to meet at your office before hand to get a scanned copy of their ID. “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’s company policy that all clients' driver’s licenses are photocopied,” suggests Melissa Dittmann Tracey with Realtor.org.
If you don’t have an office, ask them to scan and email their I.D. before meeting. If anything does happen, you’ll have a record of who the person is.
In either case, your safest option is to find a partner or co-worker to go on home showings with you. This could be another Realtor, a family member, a contractor, or even a mortgage banker.
5. Always Trust Your Gut
Ultimately, you’ll likely pick up on a dangerous situation before anything happens. This is why the most important rule of thumb is: Always to trust your gut. If something just doesn’t feel right, reach out to an emergency contact, keep your personal safety device within close reach, and leave the situation as soon as you’re safely able to. Often your intuition is the best test a dangerous situation, so don’t ignore it.
More Real Estate Agent Safety:
About the Author:
Jessica Thiefels has been writing and editing for more than 10 years and is now a professional freelancer and consultant. She's worked with a variety of real estate clients, and has been featured on Forbes and Market Watch. She’s also an author for Inman, House Hunt Network, Homes.com and more. Follow her on Twitter and connect on LinkedIn.