It’s a dangerous world out there. Even if you’ve got the sunniest outlook and trust the best in everyone, it’s foolish not to protect yourself as best you can from the bad apples in the bunch.
As an entrepreneur and independent real estate agent, you’re constantly meeting new people and showing them properties that are often vacant. It’s the way you do business, and it’s become routine to you. But when you think about it, you’re probably more careful about the way you’d transact a deal on Craigslist than the way you go about spending time with strangers in an empty house where you have few if any defenses.
Looky-loos are one thing. All they do is waste your time. Much as you may not want to believe it, though, there are others who have less innocent motives in mind. So isn’t it time to review some rules of personal safety?
Check Out New Clients
Your first contact with a new client is generally by phone. That’s the time to get the personal information that will allow you to do some research before you meet. All you need is the full name, address and phone number of your new client, and you can go online to do a search of public records that will give you background about any criminal history that might put you at risk. There’s generally a modest fee for this service, but it’s well worth it.
If your new client is a referral, take an extra step and give the reference a quick call to confirm. Make it a friendly call by thanking him or her at the same time.
Of course, It’s ideal if you can then arrange to meet new clients in your office before you go out to see properties. At that time, you should ask them to fill out a simple identification form for your records, and make a copy of their drivers’ licenses or other photo ID. You can find a sample form on the website of the National Association of Realtors.
If it’s not convenient or possible to meet at your office first, you can always bring copies of the form with you for them to complete while you take out your phone and snap a photo of their drivers’ licenses.
Use the Buddy System
For the first meeting with clients at a vacant house, it’s always best to bring a coworker or even a friend or family member. If that’s not possible, make sure at least that you’ve told someone else where you’ll be and whom you’ll be with, as well as texting or emailing to them those photos of the clients’ drivers licenses as soon as you’ve taken them.
Don’t Let Down Your Guard
Criminals can be quite charming. Even if everything feels very friendly when you first meet, don’t be lulled into forgetting these basics of safety:
- Take your own car and drive separately. If you’re seeing multiple properties, have your clients follow you from house to house.
- When you get where you’re going, park on the street. Don’t pull into a driveway where you can be blocked in.
- Leave the door to the house open and unlocked.
- Keep your cell phone in your hand, and keep your purse or laptop with you rather than putting them on a counter while you show the house. You could also consider leaving non-essentials locked in the trunk of your car.
- Allow your clients to tour the rooms by themselves, assuming you’ve been through the house before and know the selling points, as you should. If you do need or want to accompany them, let them enter each room ahead of you while you stay by its door.
- Avoid entering confined spaces like basements. Let your clients explore them while you wait.
- When you’re ready to leave the house, exit first and let your clients follow you out.
- If you feel uncomfortable at any time, leave the house immediately. Walk out to the street or get into your car and call your office or your buddy.
Securing your personal safety is paramount, but homeowners are also entrusting you to see that their property is secure while you’re showing it. To make things easier for you on that count, make sure your listing clients are aware of things they should do to protect their homes and valuables.
Jackie Roberson is a content coordinator and contributor who creates quality articles for topics like technology, home life, and education. She studied business management and is continually building positive relationships with other publishers and the Internet community.