Focus on safety: 10 ways to keep safe
MAIN IMAGE: Joanne Bushell, managing director of IWG Plc.
Today’s world is not a safe place. The following safety tips help estate agents keep a strong focus on being alert as they go about their daily activities of showing homes and meeting new clients.
1 Don’t be too public
Limit the amount of personal information you share. Consider advertising without using your photograph, home phone number and/or home address in the newspaper or on business cards. Don’t use your full name with middle name or initial. Use your office address—or list no address at all. Giving out too much of the wrong information can make you a target.
2 Install caller ID
Install caller I.D. on your telephone, which should automatically reject calls from numbers that have been blocked. This will provide you with immediate information about the source of the call.
3 Checking in
When you have a new client, ask him/her to stop by your office and complete some type of identification form. Also, photocopy their driver’s license or ID and retain this information at your office. Be certain to properly discard this personal information when you no longer need it.
4 Drive by yourself
Do not drive clients in your car. Instead, have them meet you at the property. When you leave your car, lock it.
5 Stranger danger
Tell your clients not to show their home by themselves. Alert them that not all agents, buyers and sellers are who they say they are. Predators come in all shapes and sizes. We tell our children not to talk to strangers. Tell your sellers not to talk to other agents or buyers, and to refer all inquiries to you.
6 Keep it light
Show properties before dark. If you are going to be working after hours, advise your associate or first-line supervisor of your schedule. If you must show a property after dark, turn on all lights and open shades prior to going inside with your client.
7 Touch base
Always let someone know where you are going and when you will be back; leave the name and phone number of the client you are meeting and schedule a time for your office to call you to check in.
8 Be in charge
Whenever possible, be sure your cell phone battery is charged, and always check the cell coverage of the property prior to the appointment. If needed, call the listing agent to confirm. If there is poor or no cell coverage at the property, always take someone with you.
9 Open or show house
- When you’re showing a property, thick walls and/or remote locations may interfere with cell phone reception. Be sure to check the cell service of the property before the showing, call the listing agent if necessary, if there is no or poor cell service always take an accompaniment.
- Upon entering an open house property for the first time, check each room and determine at least two “escape” routes. Make sure all deadbolt locks are unlocked for easy access to the outside. If necessary, move furniture slightly to create a straighter path to the door. If there is an interior door and a storm door, open the interior door; this increases visibility and ensures that you do not have to open an inward swinging door to escape.
- Tell your sellers not to leave personal information like mail or bills out in the open where anyone can see it. Be sure to lock down your computer and lock up your laptop and any other expensive, easy-to-pocket electronics, like iPods, before your showing.
- Remind your clients that strangers will be walking through their home. Tell them to hide any valuables in a safe place. For security’s sake, remember to remove keys, credit cards, jewellery, crystal, furs and other valuables from the home or lock them away during showings. Also remove prescription drugs. Some seemingly honest people wouldn’t mind getting their hands on a bottle of Viagra, uppers or downers.
- Control your open house traffic by limiting the number of people allowed in the house at any given time. Police have reported groups of criminals that target open houses, showing up en masse near the end of the afternoon. While several “clients” distract the agent, others go through the house and steal anything they can quickly take.
- When showing a home, always have your prospect walk in front of you. Don’t lead them, but rather, direct them from a position at least 3-4 arm lengths behind them. You can gesture for them to go ahead of you and say, for example, “The main bedroom is in the back of the house.”
- Don’t assume that everyone has left the premises at the end of an open house. Have a colleague or buddy help you check all the rooms and the backyard prior to locking the doors.
- Inform a neighbour that you will be hosting an open house, and ask if he or she would keep an eye and ear open for anything out of the ordinary.
10 Learn some self-defence skills
The best way to find a good self-defence class is to learn what is available, and then make a decision. Many health clubs, martial arts studios and community colleges offer some type of class. You can also ask your peers, friends and family if they have taken a self-defence class that they would recommend.
Source: All tips are taken from the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS’® REALTOR® Safety Program.