There is a lot in the news about the real estate market and how home values are rising, inventory and interest rates are low, and the like. The one issue that doesn't get much attention is real estate agent safety. It can be dangerous out there in the world of real estate. The National Association of Realtors (NAR) shows alarming statistics. NAR states, "Crimes against real estate professionals have risen 300% since 2006, and 14% of Realtors have feared for their safety while working." Real estate professionals need health and safety training and awareness to keep themselves safe while performing their job.
Making Appointments to Show Homes
With a hot market, agents are racing to show homes when they come on the market. The lack of homes available for sale, or low inventory, has made showing homes difficult. Many real estate agents are not thinking of their safety when the phone rings with a potential buyer on the other end. If you do not know the buyer, meet the buyer in your office. Tell him/her you would like to do a buyer consultation in person. It should be office policy to make a copy of his drivers license or ID to keep on file. There are apps, such as FOREWARN, that can run a quick criminal check for you. With this app you can search by name or do a reverse phone number search. Also, take separate cars to the property or properties you are seeing.
When you arrive at the property, park in a place you can easily get out of. You don't want to be closed in or be in the position where the buyer is parked behind you. If there is a driveway at the property, tell the buyer to park in the driveway. This will show him/here that you are being courteous.
Your Keys and Your Phone
When you are walking up to the door, have your keys and phone in your hand. If you feel uneasy at all, text the property address to someone from your office and tell them to call you in a few minutes. Have a "secret phrase" pre-arranged, which means that you are in trouble and that they should call the authorities. Or call your office and make up something about the house so you can be on the phone during the showing. The secret phrase can be as simple as "the key was sticking when I was opening the lock." You can also have 911 already dialed or on an emergency, fast-dial mode so you can call the authorities at the touch of a button if you need to.
Show vacant homes with caution. Make it a rule to only show them during daylight hours. Some criminals call listing agents or other agents to show them vacant homes on purpose. Vacant homes are an easy place for a crime to be committed.
Walk Behind the Buyer
When showing the property, always walk behind the buyer, also a common courtesy. Motion for him to walk ahead of you and say, "after you." You do not want to get blocked into a room. Stay as close to the doors of the rooms as possible. Let the buyer walk around in the rooms.
If the home you are showing has a basement, always have your buyer walk down the stairs ahead of you. Again, always stay behind your buyer and do not let him/her get between you and the stairs. Perhaps just walk about halfway down the stairs and let him/her look at the basement himself.
With the crime statistics against real estate agents as high as they are, it is of the utmost importance to keep these safety tips in mind. Home values are higher than they've been in a long time. You might really need that commission but your safety is always your first priority.