Reproduced with the kind permission of RealNet Holdings
Most of us have heard about a real estate agent who has become a crime statistic. We figure it won’t happen to us. Chances are it won’t. However the real estate fraternity is considered by security experts and law enforcement to be high-risk. Agents are mobile, usually work alone, frequently interact with strangers, and visit unoccupied properties.
Be suspect of everyone. There is no benefit in being paranoid; however, being a little guarded can keep you from getting into a vulnerable situation. For example, a well-dressed man showing up in a nice car, without a wife and kids tagging along, may seem suspect.
ID and pre-qualify at your first meeting. Whether you are at your office or meeting at a property, get some form of identification. Also, it is to your benefit that a potential client buying a home is pre-qualified. Someone who is pre-qualified by a lender and meets you at the office is less likely to be a predator.
Stay in communication with the office. Before showing a property, make it known to your colleagues, a spouse or a friend where you are going and when you will be back. Have them call you at a designated time to check on you. A system where you call in has its advantages too.
Have a plan for safe show houses. Spend a few minutes considering all the exposed points within the home and how you would escape if necessary. When a couple walks through the show house ask them to stay together. Often, they split up, and while one has your attention, the other could raid jewelry boxes and medicine cabinets for narcotics.
Use predetermined code words to alert your office of distress. Utilize the example of a traffic light, for levels of distress (green, yellow and red). For example, say to your caller: “it’s in the green folder”, letting your caller know you are fine. Or “it’s in the yellow folder”, alerting your caller that the situation is shaky and you might need assistance.
Conduct safe personal marketing. To a stalker, your photo on a billboard or in the printed media is like a catalogue. He determines if you have the ‘look’ he is seeking. Keep photos professional opposed to overly “attractive”.
Implement a buddy system. Whenever possible, bring along a colleague. There is strength in numbers. Predators thrive on isolation.
Dress for safety and success. Don’t wear expensive jewelry. Dress professionally instead of provocatively. Scarves and loose fitting ‘flowy’ styles of dress can give attackers something to grab onto. Wear shoes you can run and kick in and won’t hinder fighting back.
Don’t take predators for a ride. Don’t allow the client to ride in your car if you don’t know who they are. Make sure you have taken the necessary precautions ahead of time before you are put in an isolated situation. If they make you feel uneasy, let them follow you and bring along a buddy. If they do get in your car and make attempts to control you, put your seatbelt on and ram a parked car.
Pay attention to your intuition. Trust your gut, and don’t discount any troubling feelings you might have about your new client. If anything seems wrong, then it IS wrong. Cancel if necessary.
Know how to defend yourself. Go for the eyes, throat, groin and the instep of the foot. Fighting from the ground is an advantage that few people realize they have. Scream, scratch, bite and fight with whatever you have. Have pepper-spray in your hand or a coat pocket. Have a ball point pen ready to jab.