According to a recent survey, 5% of real estate professionals have been victims of a crime while on the job, and 20% have felt unsafe during work at least once.
Because they frequently meet and communicate with complete strangers, real estate professionals face a unique set of circumstances that makes their work inherently more dangerous than most others. Here are some tips for staying safe on the job.
First, make sure to keep detailed records of every client and appointment. That means verifying all contact information, making a copy of their (valid) photo ID, keeping an appointment book (and sticking to those appointment times), and leaving all this information with your boss or a trusted coworker so someone will always know where you are and with whom.
Second, use common sense. Don’t put yourself in a situation that might turn dangerous. For example, never meet new clients for the first time alone, even if you’ve spoken with them on the phone before. Instead, have them meet you in a neutral location first, like your office or a coffee shop. Likewise, never hold an open house by yourself. Use the buddy system and have a friend or a coworker help you out.
Safety starts with you. If you have an office, don’t ever work in your office alone, and don’t walk into or out of your office alone late at night or early in the morning. Make sure to help cultivate a culture of safety by offering to co-host open houses with coworkers and keeping track of their whereabouts while on the job. If everyone has everyone else’s back, you’re all more likely to stay safe on the job.
As a real estate professional, part of your job is being as friendly and personable as possible. However, criminals and stalkers may exploit your friendliness and turn it against you. Stick to small talk; don’t overshare personal information with unfamiliar clients, and don’t be tempted to friend your clients on your personal Facebook account, stick to your business platforms instead. You may even wish to keep your actual phone number a secret, using Google Voice or TextNow to create a different number to use for work contacts.
When holding an open house, verify in advance that the property you’re showing has cell phone service so you’ll be sure to get a signal if you need to call for help. Dress practically; don’t wear restrictive clothing or shoes that might make it harder for you to fight back or run away if necessary. Also, lock your valuables out of sight in your trunk or under the seat of your car.
When showing a property, have your clients walk in front of rather than behind you, and avoid entering attics, basements, crawlspaces, or closets with clients. Be aware of where the exits and potential escape routes are within and around the property. Use a safety app for real estate professionals to give you peace of mind and added protection. If at any point you start to feel uncomfortable or unsafe, trust your gut and remove yourself from the situation. Don’t be so eager to make a sale that you ignore warning signs and put yourself in danger.
Take pride in what you do and be smart about how you do business. Your safety is in your hands, and that should make you feel empowered. For more important tips on how to be smart and be safe, check out our free agent safety guide.