On the heels of realtor safety awareness month, a terrible tragedy has occurred. The loss of fellow realtor, Beverly Carter, resulted in shockwaves across the real estate community. It brings to the forefront an incredibly important set of safety issues that every realtor should be mindful of.
1. Always meet your prospective client at the office for your first meeting. Get the license plate number and if possible, the make and model of the vehicle. Leave that personal information about the prospect in the office w/reception or another associate, friend.
2. Always trust your gut. Do not enter a home where you have the intuition that the person(s) or situation isn’t safe.
3. When hosting an open house and someone enters that makes you feel uncomfortable, stand outside the front door until they drive away.
4. Park in the street in front of the home you’re showing; never in the driveway.
5. Text your significant other or a coworker the prospective buyer’s information and text again when you've finished the showing.
6. Never go down to the basement with the prospect unless you feel completely sure of your clients.
7. Pass along the phone number of the prospect that called you to your significant other or coworker whom you trust.
8. Carry your car key fob in your hand or pocket to quickly activate the panic button.
9. Get to the house early and open a few windows. If you yell for help, someone outside is more likely to hear your call.
10. Carry a defensive weapon on you at all times: pen, pencil, pepper spray or mace.
Selling real estate by yourself to virtual strangers is just a daily part of the job when you’re a commissioned agent. I've been a licensed realtor® for the last six years. Upon first contact with the prospective buyer, I would make an appointment with them to meet me at my office to go over buying or selling needs.
However, it is also quite common for agents to meet prospective buyers who call and drive by a home and want to see it immediately. Many agents will cater to this last minute sense of urgency driven by the buyers. Maybe I’m just more cautious than most. Or maybe, just paranoid? Either way, in six years of home showings, I have felt uneasy with a prospect only once.
A man called me one afternoon about wanting to view a property that evening. I had him meet me at my office and both I and my coworker thought he seemed a little “off” or “skittish”. I took down his make and model of car and license plate number. I texted my husband and gave him the property address and meeting time.
After meeting him in my office briefly, I still felt quite uneasy. He was of medium height, lanky, blond and repeatedly failed to make eye contact with me. When I was in my car alone, I called my husband and asked if he could meet me at the property just to be sure. Much to my relief, he confirmed.
I arrived at the house and walked to the front door with this shifty prospect. I then got the key from the lock box and proceeded to open the door. Something inside me could not bring me to get into that house with this guy. It didn't help that he was holding this pointy antique black and silver umbrella with not a drop of rain from the sky or in the forecast: very odd indeed.
I was intimidated and very uncomfortable. Sometimes you just have to follow that voice in your head that says, “Don't do it!” “Do not step in that house or something bad is going to happen!!” I told him to feel free to take as long as he wanted to look at the house to meet me back outside when he's finished touring the home. He obliged.
I never heard from him again after that meeting. (Thank goodness!) What I learned is that I'm extremely cautious and erring on the side of the caution is just plain safe. It just may save your life.