Safety is something that should be promoted by anyone and everyone working in an industry, in the interest of keeping every fellow worker type safe so that they can return home to their family every night. It is an unfortunate reality that women are often more at risk than men when it comes to workplace safety concerns, and in real estate this risk is magnified due to the fact that realtors are often meeting prospective clients or interested homebuyers on their own.
The Lindsay Buziak story that occurred in Victoria, BC in 2008 is a very sad and unfortunate one, and one cannot help but feel terrible for her family while at the same time hoping that her killer is eventually made to face justice. She was showing a property to an interested buyer on her own, and unfortunately she was found dead in the home afterwards.
Now while of course instances like this are rare, it’s essential to be as best prepared as possible to keep yourself safe if you’re a female real estate agent. Real estate is a tough business to begin with, and you’ll have enough on your plate without having to worry about your safety. First and foremost with that toughness for new realtors is prospecting client leads, but here at Real Estate Leads our online real estate lead generation system for Canada is an excellent way to put the power of the Internet to work for you.
Back on topic though, what we’re going to do today is share some tips for real estate agent safety that are all very doable and may go a long way to prevent you from finding yourself in a bad situation.
Here’s our 8 tips for realtor safety
- Trust Your Instincts
This one gets the top spot on the list because it’s nearly always true no matter what you’re doing, why you’re doing it, or where you’re doing it. If a particular situation doesn’t feel right, it probably isn’t. If you feel that way, trust your instincts and remove yourself from the situation without any delay.
- ‘Talk time’ for Better Security
Increasing or stretching out talk time with a prospect increased the likelihood of you uncovering something that can be a red flag, a cause for concern. When you talk longer with a prospect on the phone, you acquire more information about that person. You can secure information that will lead you to look into them before you agree to meet with them in person as a client.
- Create Your First Appointment Strategy
The best strategy for any client for whom you have a ‘something’s not right’ feeling is to convince them of the value of an in-office appointment. An in-office appointment during normal business hours creates safety because of the number of people will be present in the office alongside you. If they wont’ agree to come to the office, then suggest meeting at a neutral public location. A Starbucks or other coffee shop is a good choice as it’s a very common suggestion (my wife and I met our realtor for the first time in a coffee shop). It’s public, and if it doesn’t feel right, you can get yourself out of that situation by comfortable or uncomfortable means if necessary.
Tips When Meeting Prospective Clients in a Home
If you find that you must meet the client in a home, this of course changes the whole dynamic of the to-be situation. There are a few steps you should take before you meet someone for the first time at a home. For starters, if you feel suspicious about doing so based on your instincts, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with showing up with someone with you. If you need to falsify the nature of that person and how they relate to being present, that’s fine. A white lie, if you will.
This other someone could be another agent, your boyfriend or spouse, or a friend who comes with you to the showing. Do not bring children, or even youths that may not be able to intervene sufficiently should something go wrong and you’re in danger.
If it’s to show prospective buyers a home, then arranging for the listing agent to meet you at the property is a smart choice. Safety in numbers. Having the seller homeowner there is a good choice if you’re the listing agent
- Trail Behind When Showing the Home
When showing a home, it’s wise to have the prospective buyer walk in front of you. This keeps them fully visible and in front of you, and allows you reaction time if they need it. You will have time to react, rather than being caught by surprise. It’s true that some female realtors keep a small mace spray decanter on their keychain, and used with this ‘distance’ approach it will give you time to use it if you need to.
- Inform Others and Check In
When showing a property to a possible buyer you’ve never met previously, inform your office, any ‘buddy’ agent you may have, and family members. Next, set a time to check back with them. Clear advance communication improves safety. Plus, giving any information on the buyer is never a bad idea if you have even the slightest inkling something’s not right with them.
- Have Your Own Distress Code for Safety
Our next suggestion is to create a voice or text distress code to alert others to your need for help right away. Some offices established a predetermined phrase like ‘can you put me through to Jordan Whalen, I need to talk to him about #### Alphabet Street. This will then alert the office or other agent to call 911 and have police on their way to your location – #### Alphabet Street – without delay.
- Take a Self-Defense Class
Being able to defend yourself or break free from an assailant’s grasp could save your life. Self-defense classes are offered by community colleges, the YMCA or YWCA, health clubs, and martial-arts studios. If you’re in relatively good shape and sufficiently nimble then this might be a good idea for you. Many women are amazed at what they’re capable of in this regard!
- Arrive Early and Plan for your Exit
Arriving before the buyer you are showing the home to is always a good idea too. This allows ample time to evaluate and observe the neighborhood. If any part of it seems sketchy, out of place, or out of the ordinary, you have the ability to focus on this and make those determinations. Is there anyone loitering around the home or property? Is it unusually quiet? Is there anyone who shouldn’t be there, or their presence is unexpected? If so, go through your exit strategy and have one in case you need it. Walk through the home to determine the floor plan and the flow. Evaluate each room to see what’s the best ‘escape’ route. You want to have options in case one route is blocked. If you can, unlock all doors and deadbolts so nothing obstructs from exiting the home or building quickly.
The last part of this is to have a go-to excuse ready to be used at any time you feel you need to remove yourself from any type of concerning situation. A popular one is something along the lines of a family emergency, and you need to leave right away to see to it.
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