It’s September, which means it’s also REALTOR® Safety Month!
So, today, we wanted to share with you some helpful tips to ensure your personal safety is a top priority not just this month, but throughout the year.
Did you know that according to the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR) 2017 Member Safety Survey, 44 percent of female REALTORS® and 25 percent of male REALTORS® have experienced a situation in the past year that made them fear for their personal safety or safety of their personal information?
Those are surprising statistics, but some of these dangerous things are commonplace, and you may not even realize that you’re doing them. Here is a closer look!
Leaving Belongings Unattended
Sometimes, we are just too trusting of others in this regard, and open houses are ripe for distractions, which is when potentially dangerous people tend to strike. Keep a close eye on your laptop, car keys, purse, briefcase, and more so they do not inadvertently walk out the door.
And beware that thieves will often work as a team, with someone distracting while the other grabs your goods (or the homeowners). Take care not to leave your belongings unattended at an open house, or even at your office.
Using Shared Computers
Many of us are guilty of using shared computers at the office and forgetting to log out when we are done. But this can put your clients’ information at risk because the next person who comes along may not be a trusted person.
Thieves like to target real estate offices and break-in because they know there is a multitude of personal and business information to be found there. So, make sure that if you have to log into a computer to use it, that you log out before you walk away.
Daytime Versus Nighttime Showings
We don’t think you’re scared of the dark, but many agents have a false sense of security when they schedule daytime showings versus those at night, and that’s not a good thing. Attacks in broad daylight have been increasing in recent years as thieves become more brazen. So, always be sure that you are aware of your surroundings, whether your showing is under cover of sunshine or darkness.
Share Suspicious Incidents
If you’ve experienced a suspicious incident during a showing or meeting, this is information you should absolutely share with your brokerage, other real estate friends, or even on local real estate focused social media pages like Facebook, LinkedIn or NextDoor.
It is common for buyers to make the rounds in neighborhoods or communities as they are planning something illegal or dangerous, and if several real estate agents have the same suspicious experiences with the same person, that is something that should be reported.
Share Your Location
Realtors spend a lot of time solo while they are showing homes to their clients or sitting on open houses, so it’s important that you always share your location with someone like a business associate, spouse, friend or another family member.
This includes providing them with the address of where you’re going and meeting potential clients. Technology like “Find my iPhone” can also be useful to ensure that you are traceable if need-be.
What Not To Wear
As real estate professionals, we know that dressing for the part can often help establish trust with our clients. But you definitely do not want to come across as an easy target to thieves and criminals who may be eyeing your jewelry, handbags, watches, and more.
Leave your expensive personal effects at home during an open house or showing. And make sure your clients’ expensive items are out of view during a photoshoot as well, as you do not want these items showing up in marketing materials.
Let Them Lead
When you are showing a home, you may be tempted to take the lead as you guide your clients through a property. But experts say that you should let them take the lead!
By following instead of leading, you are giving yourself an unobstructed view of what potential buyers are doing at all times. You should also be mindful of exit locations in case any trouble should arise, and always leave the front door unlocked should you need to leave quickly.
Do Your Due Diligence
With the advent of social media, there are a number of ways that you can vet clients before you even meet them face to face. Facebook is a great place to start by simply typing in the client’s name into the search bar. You can learn a lot about a person this way!
Some other ideas include using a reverse phone number search, as these often lead to public profiles where you can garner information.
Follow Your Instinct
If something seems amiss, chances are, it probably is. So, follow your instinct if something seems out of place, and do not be afraid to stop a showing or open house if you need to. Having a higher level of awareness is a good thing and could keep you safe from a potentially dangerous situation.
For additional information about safety tips and ideas, NAR is hosting two free webinars with safety experts for their members.
Safety: Do This Now
Presented by: Andy Tolbert
When: Wednesday, September 20 at 1:00 p.m. CST
Stay Safe by Building Better Business Relationships
Presented by: Tamara Suminski
When: Wednesday, September 27 at 1:00 p.m. CST
For assistance with all of your escrow needs, please feel free to contact us! Our dedicated team of escrow officers would be happy to assist you.