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19 Tips to Stay Safe During Realtor Safety Month (and Beyond!)

September 02 2016

safety screening prospect 1September is Realtor Safety Month. It's also the first month autumn, which means that the days are getting shorter and darker. But just because there are fewer hours of daylight doesn't mean agents aren't working as much, however. They're still out there showing houses, even in the waning evening light.

That's why now is a great time for agents to turn their attention to on-the-job safety. Realtors face unique safety challenges. Basic professional duties like showing vacant homes or meeting unknown prospects can make them vulnerable to attack.

Fortunately, there are a number of basic precautions REALTORS can take to stay safe. We've rounded up the top safety tips from Real Safe Agent's free course on crime prevention for agents. Incorporate them into your business practices to help reduce the risk of being targeted.

1. Learn more about crime and criminals - Keep yourself safer by understanding the enemy. What motivates predators to commit crimes against agents? This article outlines the types of criminals to look out for, their motivations, and the nature of the crimes they commit.

2. Be mindful of your personal image - Criminals are often first attracted to their target via the agent's marketing materials, so be careful of the image you project. Avoid full body pics, and keep your outfit professional and conservative. Hold your head vertical, not tilted, to project an authoritative demeanor. Finally, avoid all hints of luxury to avoid attracting criminals looking for seemingly wealthy targets. To that end, keep your makeup and jewelry understated, and avoid pictures that include high-end items like luxury cars.

3. Keep personal information to a minimum - Obsessive and opportunistic criminals thrive on personal information, so keep that out of your marketing. Avoid mentioning whether you have kids, the neighborhood you live in, your favorite places to hand out, groups you belong to, etc.

4. Keep separate personal and business social media profiles - Avoid attention of predatory or obsessive people by having. Eliminate or abbreviate your last name on your personal page, and avoid using location tracking on all your profiles.

5. Screen prospects before a showing - Before you ever go out alone for the first time with buyers on a showing, be sure to screen them. Ideally, this should be done over the phone or at your brokerage's office. Use the script at the link above as a helpful guide to red flags to look out for.

6. Get to know the neighborhood around your listing - Introduce yourself to the neighbors and found out information about the local neighborhood watch, how active it is, if any law enforcement officers live nearby, how often neighbors socialize with each other. This info is not only good to tell legitimate prospects, it can deter potential predators who may fear a social and active neighborhood.

7. Get to know your listing and its property - We're not just talking the square footage here. Is the property vacant? That can make you more vulnerable. How's your cell signal there, in case you need to call for help? Is the property well-lit with plenty of windows? Do you have escape routes from every major room of the house? Look at a property with your safety in mind.

8. Use the initial prospect call to deter predators - In addition to mentioning an active neighborhood watch and other details that are unappealing to predators, establish control during your call. This can be done with a number of techniques, like not automatically accepting the first meeting time they offer ("I can meet you at 7pm instead"). Criminals look for passive people that can be more easily manipulated.

9. Arrive at your showings early - This lets you scope out the property and get your bearings before the prospect arrives.

10. Park on the street - This prevents criminals from potentially blocking you in in the driveway. If you can't park on the street, pull into the driveway so that your driver's door faces your most likely escape path.

11. Greet the prospect outside - You can use this as an excuse to take them on an tour of the exterior first in order to feel them out.

12. Be careful where you stand - This is all about reducing vulnerability. When opening the lockbox, stand so that the prospect is on one side and you're on the other. This lets you see them without having to awkwardly turn around. Likewise, stand perpendicular to any door you're opening and off to the side.

13. Prepare the home for showing safety - This is largely about visibility to the neighbors. Turn on all the lights, open the blinds, unlock all doors, and remove objects that could be used as a weapon against you (vases, trophies, bats, knives, etc.).

14. When inside a home, make sure you're visible outside - Keeping yourself visible to the neighbors deters criminals.

15. Let prospects enter rooms before you - This prevents them from being behind you.

16. Stay two arm-lengths away from prospects - This distance is respectful to real prospects and makes it harder for criminals to physically harm you.

17. Pay attention to the prospect's body language - Watch out for signs of increased adrenaline or nervousness, like dilated pupils, constant looking out the window, lack of eye contact, fidgeting, wiping hands on shirt or pants, changes in expression or tone of voice, etc.

18. Pay attention to verbal cues - Are they more interested than you than the house? Do they share too much personal information? Do they compliment you in an unprofessional manner or use suggestive language?

19. Download a safety app - Apps like Real Safe Agent help agents stay safe in the field. They let you tell friends and colleagues when you feel unsafe at a showing, and alert your network and the authorities when you are threatened.

We hope the tips above were useful! For more on security solutions for real estate, see our 2016-17 Technology Guide2016-17 Technology Guide.