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Realtor Safety: Using the Initial Prospect Call to Deter Predators

September 22 2015

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

200px handshake through barrierThere are several techniques you can use during the initial prospect call to deter a predator, whether their motive is power or profit. Most of these techniques use the information you've learned from the neighborhood and property evaluation you've already done. Additionally, most of that information is valuable information you would pass on to a legitimate prospect because it could make the property more attractive to the legitimate prospect, while making meeting you at that property less attractive to the predator.

Neighborhood and Property Information

If the property is your listing and the statements are true, you'll want to mention the following in the initial call:

  • "There's an active neighborhood watch"
  • "It's a tight-knit little area and the neighbors seem to socialize regularly"
  • "You've got a county sheriff just three houses away"
  • "The house very light and open, with plenty of windows"

Anything you tell the prospect that would be generally attractive to a legitimate buyer, but makes it a less attractive crime location, you should mention.

Obviously, if it is not your listing, you wouldn't know any of this information until after the initial call. An effective sales, as well as security, technique is to follow-up with the prospect prior to the appointment to convey the information and confirm the appointment.

Establishing Control and Avoiding "Victim Stance"

Remember that criminals with a power motive will be more attracted to a victim that is subservient; therefore, establishing control of the conversation and the situation can act as deterrent to a predator. This can be easily done with a few simple techniques:

  • When the prospect suggests a meeting time (say, 6pm) don't automatically accept it; say you need to make it 6:30. Don't ask if 6:30 is okay; tell them that's when you can meet.
  • Set expectations up front: "The house has a finished basement, and during the showing, you are more than welcome to explore it while I wait upstairs."

If Your Association or MLS Has Deployed Real Safe Agent:

  • After setting the appointment, tell the prospect that you are going to enter them into your CRM, phone, or calendar and that you are going to send them a text with a link in it--just click the link, take a selfie, type in your name and hit send. This way, you won't have to type it into your phone or CRM and you can put a face to the name
  • For a higher level of security, you can tell the prospect that as a matter of policy, if you're taking someone into a seller's home, you're required to obtain a picture of a photo ID. Tell them that you're going to send a text message, and all they need to do is click the link and take a picture of their driver's license or a selfie, type in their name, and tap submit.

In both cases, a predator will likely not comply or stop targeting you altogether. Either way, it gives important information you can use to make decisions about your safety. This step will also allow you to find out if this individual has previously met with other agents and if those agents felt uncomfortable with the prospect.

An important part of establishing control is not displaying "victim stance" or expressing that the reason for a particular situation or rule is because of something that happened to you beyond your control. For example, don't say, "I can meet at 6:30 because my car is at the shop and I have to pick it up." Just say, "I can meet you at 6:30." Don't say, "I won't go into the basement because I've had a bad experience." Just say, "I'll wait up here, take all the time you wish."

The idea is to make yourself an unattractive target to someone seeking to do you harm without making the legitimate buyer uncomfortable with you.

The Training Play

During the initial call or follow-up, you'll find the "Training Play" a useful tool in assessing the prospect. The Training Play is simple: during the call, mention that your office has asked you to help train a new agent and he will be joining you. The prospect's reaction to that news may provide you with valuable information. If you choose not to bring someone with you on the appointment, you can simply mention that he had something come up or he's on his way, if the prospect even mentions it.

Read the next article in this series now: How to Have a Safe Showing

Read More Articles in this Series

September is RealtorĀ® 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)!