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Realtor Safety: Evaluating a Property and Neighborhood

September 21 2015

This month, we're publishing content from a course on Realtor Safety. This is the seventh in a series of articles that teaches Realtors how to prevent being a victim of crime. Read the previous article here.

home search many 3Learning as much as possible about a property and neighborhood is an important part of the sales process. However, it is also an important step in assessing the risk of an appointment as well as deterring a possible predator.

The Neighborhood

If the property you are showing is your listing, spending a little time introducing yourself to the neighbors and checking out the neighborhood is an excellent strategy for getting additional business. It is also an extremely valuable safety strategy.

While introducing yourself to neighbors, take the time to find out the following information:

  • Is there a neighborhood watch? How active is it?
  • Are there any law enforcement officers living on the block?
  • Is it an active neighborhood? Do the neighbors know and socialize with one another?

This all important information that you can use in an initial conversation with a prospect to not only impress a legitimate prospect, but also deter a possible predator or opportunistic thief.

Additionally, look for any abandoned houses in the immediate area. Even if the house you are showing is not abandoned, neighborhoods with abandoned houses may be more attractive to someone intending to commit a crime.

The Property

Just as you take the time to learn about the property and evaluate it so you can market and price it correctly, you can do the same to determine the risk level of the property.

The following are important factors in determining the risk level of the property:

  • Vacancy - Is the property vacant? A vacant property will increase risk
  • Cell Signal - Do you have a strong cell signal? If the signal is weak or non-existent, ALWAYS BRING SOMEONE WITH YOU ON AN APPOINTMENT!
  • Exterior Lighting - Is the exterior of the house well lit?
  • Interior Lighting - Is the interior of the house well lit?
  • Windows - Are there plenty of windows? Do they provide an unobstructed view from the outside of the house to the inside and vice versa? Ideally, you'll want to make sure that you and the prospect are always in view of the outside.
  • Stories - How many stories does the house have? One story houses are the safest because they generally have the best escape paths.
  • Garage - Does the house have a garage? Is it attached? Can you open the door easily? The existence of a garage can increase risk if it's attached and the garage door is closed.
  • Basement - Does the house have a basement? Basements are a huge risk. If a predator has targeted you, there is a good chance that a basement will be a factor in choosing the house in which to commit the crime.
  • Escape Paths - Do you have at least two escape paths from any point in the house? Multiple escape paths reduce the risk because a predator can't block your escape path if it's needed.
  • Exterior Doors - Does the entrance have a storm door in addition to a main door? How many exterior doors? Storm doors can slow down an escape, if needed. The more exterior doors the house has means more escape paths.
  • Yard - Does the yard obstruct the view into the house from any houses around the property? Does it provide an escape route to another house or the street?
  • Fence - Is the front and/or back yard fenced? Does it obstruct views?

No class or guide can anticipate every layout of every house, so be sure to you use common sense and think critically. The more visible you are, the safer you are; the more escape paths, the safer.

Not Your Listing?

If the property is not your listing, you'll need to rely on the listing agent for information about the neighborhood—and possibly information about the house as well.

If at all possible, you should take time to preview the property so you can analyze the items listed in the previous section for yourself. If previewing the property is not an option, be sure to contact the listing agent to learn as much as possible about the property.

Read the next article in this series now: Using the Initial Prospect Call to Deter PredatorsUsing the Initial Prospect Call to Deter Predators

Read More Articles in this Series

September is Realtor® Safety Month. Throughout the month, RE Technology will be publishing excerpts from an educational course on Realtor Safety in partnership with safety app creator Real Safe Agent. Here's the list of articles that have been published to date:

Please consider sharing this important information with your colleagues, your agents (brokers), and membership (MLSs and associations)!