Part of having a career in real estate is meeting new people. You want new clients! You want to welcome them with open arms, and then help them find the home of their dreams.
While most people are legitimately looking for a real estate agent to help them find that dream home, there will always be a rotten apple out there trying to spoil the bunch.
Unfortunately, there are criminals out there seeking out opportunities to target careless agents.
As an agent, you need to take precautions to keep yourself safe, especially when dealing with strangers. Here are some safety tips to keep in mind when meeting a new client and showing them properties.
Meeting for the First Time
The first time that you meet a new potential client should never be at a private showing. Ideally, your initial meeting should be in your office. This gives you and your coworkers the opportunity to vet them.
Take the time to check their ID to verify that they are who they say, and even make a photocopy of it to keep in your records.
Should anything ever happen, having a copy of their ID and colleagues that can help identify them will be extremely useful.
If you’re unable to meet at your office, you should still arrange the first meeting in a public place. Anything is better than finding yourself isolated with a stranger in an empty house!
Communication is Key
Have a list of individuals that you can check in with when heading out for showings. It can be colleagues, a spouse, other family members, or friends. Always make sure at least one person knows who you are with, the address you are going to, and when you plan on being done.
Some phones have the ability to share your location, like “Find My Friends” on iPhones, or “Location Sharing” through Google Maps on Android devices. Designate one or two of your contacts to be able to see your location.
Before you head out to show a property, make sure you turn your location services on and that your phone is sharing your current location with those chosen contacts.
When You Arrive
Once you arrive at the property you are showing, don’t park in the driveway or anywhere else that you might get blocked-in. In the event that you need to escape, being parked out front is ideal.
When arriving at your destination, assess the situation. Make sure you don’t see any suspicious activity, loitering, or anything that seems out of place. Be aware of the exits, and make sure you have a planned escape route.
Never turn your back to the potential client. It can seem natural, as the agent, to take the lead when showing a home. Instead, you should always let the client go ahead. It’s safer for you to follow so that you always have them in your full view. Avoid going into basements and attics, if possible.
Stay in control of all keys. Never put keys down and walk away. This applies to both the property’s keys that you’ve acquired from the lockbox and your own personal keys. While you’re at it, don’t ever leave your phone unattended, either!
Always Be Prepared
It is a good idea to take precautions even though you hope you’ll never need them. Sign up for a self-defense class. Many martial arts studios, community colleges, and gyms offer classes like this.
If you’re unsure of where to look, check with your coworkers, family members, or friends to see if anyone has a class they would recommend.
It’s also a good idea to carry pepper spray, a stun gun, a baton, or any number of other self-defense weapons that are available. Most importantly with these, though, is to make sure that you know how to use it!
Practice getting it out and unlocking it, turning it on, or opening it, if necessary. Confidence in your ability to use it will matter tremendously.