In September, the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR) emphasizes the importance of personal safety in the real estate industry. Every year, the NAR releases a Member Safety Report, from which all the statistics in this article are referenced from.
Real estate professionals provide an essential service to home buyers and sellers in our communities, and much of their time is spent meeting with clients and traveling to and from properties. While this is a very rewarding job, it is also a dangerous one. Real estate agents are constantly on the road, meeting with new clients, and visiting unfamiliar locations. In fact, 60% of REALTORS® use a safety app to track their location and alert colleagues in case of an emergency.
It’s important for real estate agents to take the proper safety precautions including meeting in familiar and public locations, always being aware of surroundings, and practicing safe driving. 38% of REALTORS® said that they have participated in a self-defense class, 46% of men and 52% of women carry a self-defense weapon or tool, and 72% of REALTORS® report having personal safety protocols they follow. Taking these steps and more can help you to stay safe while on the job.
Tips for Staying Safe While Showing Properties
- Meet the Client First - 50% of REALTORS® surveyed meet unknown prospective clients in an office or public location first. Schedule a meeting at the office before arranging a showing and get to know your new client by asking personal questions such as where they work or how long they've lived in the area.
- Don’t Draw Attention - As a real estate professional, you want to make a good first impression. However, if you wear expensive or flashy jewelry, watches, or other accessories, you could become a target. It's important to dress professionally - just try to avoid wearing anything that might attract unwanted attention.
- Reduce Needless Risk - Many REALTORS® will go above and beyond for their clients; however, sometimes the risk is simply not worth it. For example, activities like climbing up ladders to reach the attic or getting into the crawl space, are dangerous. If possible, try to avoid them or hire a professional to inspect the areas for you.
- Work During the Day - A flexible schedule is one of the benefits of being a real estate professional. Even though you may occasionally need to work late hours, you should schedule appointments and showings during the day to increase safety. If evening scheduling is unavoidable, make sure you’re familiar with the area and the property is well lit.
- Keep a Schedule - Always keep an up-to-date calendar that specifies where you're going, who you'll be with, and how long you intend to be there. Share this information with at least one other colleague so someone else is always aware of your whereabouts and keep location sharing on your phone or smartwatch active while on the job.
- Avoid Driving with Clients - Have clients follow behind you to the property to reduce safety risks.
- Get Open House Support - An open house is a great tool to generate interest and connect with new clients. However, it attracts a high volume of strangers. Whenever possible, work with a trusted partner so you don’t host these events alone. With a strong support network, you can easily increase safety in a situation where 31% of real estate agents report feeling uncomfortable. Also, be strategic when you schedule open houses. Most attacks take place on Thursday or Friday afternoons, so avoid scheduling during these times when possible.
- Protect Your Information - While many of these tips relate to physical safety, identity-related crimes are increasingly common. Always be mindful of the personal details you’re sharing with your clients as you never know what someone’s intentions are, and you could be at risk for identity theft.
- Check for Cell Service - Certain factors such as thick walls and remote locations could interfere with your cell reception. Make sure that you have cell service and a full battery before arriving at the property. If you’re aware that you’ll have poor reception in the area, tell a colleague before the appointment.
- Tour the Property Before Clients Arrive - Familiarize yourself with the property to eliminate surprises during the tour, increase your comfort level, and gain insight into the property. When walking through the house, make a mental note of where the exits are located in case of an emergency.
Realtor Safety Apps and Smart Jewelry
REALTORS® are increasingly turning to smartphone apps to keep them safe on the job, according to new research.
The Advantage of Dedicated Safety Apps
While phone tracking apps will only help locate your phone when lost, safety apps let you discreetly call for help, and can lead authorities and emergency contacts to your location. Some apps offer an alarm feature to draw attention to your situation and deter attackers. Still others offer audio and video recording capabilities so that any criminal activity can be documented.
Safety Apps for Real Estate
Several safety apps have been built specifically for the unique security needs of real estate agents, including:
- HomeSnap Pro - Yes, HomeSnap is a property search app (and the official app of the Broker Public Portal). But did you know that it has a safety feature built-in? Activate HomeSnap Pro's Safety Timer right before a showing. When you're finished, cancel the time. If you don't cancel the time, it assumes that you're in distress and will alert your emergency contacts with your location and a request for assistance.
- SentriSmart - SentriLock's mobile app is another real estate tool you may already use. Last year, the app added a safety timer that starts counting down as soon as you open a listing's lockbox. The feature periodically asks if you're okay. If you don't respond to the prompt in a timely manner, SentriLock sends an alert to your emergency contacts.
- Real Safe Agent - Offered as a free member benefit of your MLS or association, Real Safe Agent relies on the entire real estate community to keep agents safe. The "Accompany Me" feature lets agents request nearby agents to accompany them to a showing. When agents are alone and feel uneasy during a showing, the "Drop-in Alert" feature asks nearby agents to stop by the property. To discreetly call for help, agents can shake their phone to dial 911 and alert their emergency contacts. To warn other agents of shady prospects, agents can log the name and information of individuals who make them uncomfortable in an area-wide database called Prospect Link.
Smart jewelry is a new, innovative way to stay safe while on the job. You may face certain instances were accessing your phone may not be feasible or discreet. Smart jewelry, including necklaces and bracelets, can send signals to your smartphone and alert authorities.
Being a real estate agent certainly poses serious safety risks, but that shouldn’t steer you away from a successful career in real estate! Along with preparation and vigilance, these practices can help reduce the occurrence of workplace incidents. For more helpful information, see the Realtor Safety Program’s full list of safety tips, or visit the National Association of REALTORS® website.
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