Updated: Jul 4, 2018
From our Real Estate Agent Learning (REAL) Program
With recent violent attacks on real estate agents being displayed in the news media, we felt it was important to highlight steps that can be taken to stay safe.
Meeting with people you don't know is risky, but it is a necessary part of your job. So it is vital that you learn how to make the meeting as safe as possible for you.
Whenever possible, you should meet with clients at the office before going to a location with them alone. This holds a couple of advantages for you. First, it lets you take a little time to learn more about the client. While you may not always pick up on "red flags", if you do see them, then you KNOW that this is not a good deal to get involved with. Two, you will have an easy opportunity to introduce the client to at least one other person in your office. Criminals don't like to be "seen" by multiple people. This makes the likelihood of getting caught after committing a crime much higher.
Before meeting with a person, get client identification. This has been recommended by the National Association of Realtors (NAR) for many years. Yet very few agents actually take the time to do this simple safety step. Why? Asking a client for identification can be awkward. Even if it is not awkward, it is often inconvenient. You may not be anywhere near a photocopy machine. Some safety experts suggest taking a photo of the client's driver's license with your phone. But what if they rob you and take your phone?
That is exactly why we offer a client identification form that is quick, simple, and effective as part of our R.E.A.L. Safety training package. Because it does not matter how great a solution is if it is never used. Our form is extremely convenient and user friendly for both the agent and the client.
When meeting with clients, do your best to know the location ahead of time. Scope out the neighborhood to determine a good time to show this property. Try to show it during hours when people are most active in the neighborhood; after school, arriving from work, weekends, etc. Locate all of the exits to the home, not just the front door. Unlock all of the exits in case you need to make a quick escape.
It is a good idea to schedule somebody like a fellow agent or friend to call you approximately 5 minutes after the meeting is scheduled to start. Have "code phrases" setup. These should indicate to the other person on the phone that something is wrong and that a specific action is necessary. Example phrases and meanings:
"I think I'm just gonna order pizza tonight." - Call 911
"Did you still need me to come over after my meeting?" - I need you to come here right away
"Could you call back the client listed on my desk?" - Everything is fine
By having "code phrases" you do not give the potential client any cause for concern. You also provide yourself a professional sounding phone call that alerts others that you are either comfortable with the client, or that you need some sort of assistance.
These steps will contribute to safely showing a property!