Important Safety Tips for REALTORS®

Unfortunately, crimes against REALTORS® have been on the rise. Please take some time to review this important safety tips and make them an integral part of your daily real estate life.

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When you first meet with a new client

1) Meet in a public place – Never, ever meet a client for the first time at the property. Meet in a public place – such as your office, Starbuck’s, or even the Association headquarters. A new website – meetmeherefirst.com – can help you find locations that have signed up as “Open Door Partners” for REALTORS®.

2) Request identification – Studies have shown that if this single thing were done every time with every client, crimes against REALTORS® would decrease dramatically. It’s very easy to say during your consultation, “Thank you, I’m excited to work with you, now all I need is a copy of your Driver’s License for my file”. If they do not oblige, this is a major red flag.

3) Pre-qualify – Not only will this help you manage your time be ensuring all of your clients are qualified to purchase property, this will also help you protect yourself. Make a connection with a great lender who can help you with this. Find one of our Affiliate members on the SAAR website – just choose ‘Financing’ from the AFFILIATE Business Specialty drop-down.

4) Introduce them to people – Introducing someone to your office manager, broker or colleague is a deterrent for someone who has ill intentions.

5) Ask for multiple phone numbers – Get a work, cell and home phone number, if possible. Throughout your time working with the person, periodically call the different numbers. If one or two of the numbers they gave are “out of service” when you try calling, that’s a bad sign.

When you’re showing property

1) Make sure someone knows your itinerary – Set times with your spouse, broker or colleague to check in during showings. Make sure someone knows your route, and what client you are with. Have a set plan for what to do if you don’t check in at the assigned time, or don’t return from your appointments when expected.

2) Have your client walk in front of you – Staying behind the person or even letting them walk through a room while you wait in the hallway can ward off potential attacks.

3) Be aware at vacant homes – If a door or window of a vacant property is ajar, DO NOT go inside. Instead, call the non-emergency police line and wait outside or in your car with the doors locked.

At Open Houses

  1. If possible, always try to have at least one other person working with you at the open house.
  2. Check your cell phone’s strength and signal prior to the open house. Have emergency numbers programmed on speed dial.
  3. Upon entering a house for the first time, check all rooms and determine several “escape” routes. Make sure all deadbolt locks are unlocked to facilitate a faster escape.
  4. Make sure that if you were to escape by the back door, you could escape from the backyard. Frequently, high fences surround yards that contain swimming pools or hot tubs.
  5. Have all open house visitors sign in. Ask for full name, address, phone number and email.
  6. When showing the house, always walk behind the prospect. Direct them; don’t lead them. Say, for example, “The kitchen is on your left,” and gesture for them to go ahead of you.
  7. Avoid attics, basements, and getting trapped in small rooms.
  8. Notify someone in your office, your answering service, a friend or a relative that you will be calling in every hour on the hour. And if you don’t call, they are to call you.
  9. Inform a neighbor that you will be showing the house and ask if he or she would keep an eye and ear open for anything out of the ordinary.
  10. Don’t assume that everyone has left the premises at the end of an open house. Check all of the rooms and the backyard prior to locking the doors. Be prepared to defend yourself, if necessary.

More tips to use all the time

  1. Never, ever meet someone at the property for the first time
  2. Always make sure your cell phone is fully charged
  3. Follow the 10-second rule to be aware of your surroundings
  4. Watch the messages you send

Virtual/electronic safety

It’s important to keep yourself safe and decrease your risk of being a victim of a “cyber crime”. Keep your electronic information safe – as well as your client’s – by following these tips:

  1. Always use a secure password for all websites and apps.
  2. Never use the same password for multiple websites.
  3. Be aware of hidden malware coming through emails.
  4. Keep data security in mind by securing paper files.

Considerations for managing brokers

1) 14 Simple Steps for Safeguarding Your Office

2) REALTOR® Safety Forms: More Than Just a Space Filler

3) Agent Identification Form (Word download)

4) Office Safety Action Plan (Word download)

Apps & tools to keep you safe

SAAR does not endorse or recommend any of these apps. We are providing them here as a resource for you.

  • Bmonitored (App) – Enter details of a meeting; at certain intervals, the app asks for confirmation that you are safe. If you do not respond after the selected interval, the app will send a text or e-mail to a person of your choosing. Read the full story on Inman News
  • Witness (App) – Like a “panic button” that live-streams a video when activated. Also alerts people of your choosing with email, text or phone call when you activate the app. Read more on Tech Crunch

More Safety Resources

 

Thank you to the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR) and the Scottsdale Police Department for their help compiling these tips!