Thursday, July 28, 2016

Realtor safety: Prepare for worst-case scenarios

JACKSONVILLE BEACH, Fla. – July 27, 2016 – 
Realtors face a unique set of safety challenges during the course of a normal business day, from open houses or meeting clients to home showings. While many agents now take precautions – everything from phone apps to pepper spray and even weapons – the surprise nature of an assault can make many of those precautions difficult to use. On occasion, a problem can even occur in a location generally considered safe, especially when an attack is random. That happened recently in Jacksonville Beach when a Realtor was attacked by an assailant while working in her broker's office – the kind of attack that can happen to anyone in any occupation. For Realtors, safety is an ongoing issue. 

Consider the following:  
  • Hosting open houses When hosting open houses, encourage neighbors and lookie-loos to hang around. Lock personal valuables in your car, and make a mental note of all possible exits from the home. Perhaps the best option: Never host an open house alone.  
  • Showing properties Leave an itinerary and timetable in your broker's office before going out to show a property. Take a cell phone and don't wear expensive jewelry or carry an expensive pocketbook or wallet that make you a robbery target. If showing vacant property after dark, take along a spouse, friend or associate.  
  • Meeting customers The first meeting with a potential client should happen in the broker's office rather than at a listing or even semi-public location. Ask to see a driver's license, write down their car's license tag and note the address of the property you're visiting. If something happens, the broker then has all the data. 
    • 1. Never have a first meeting with a customer at a property. Always meet customers in the office, where you can introduce them to the broker, manager or other colleagues. If you must, meet them at a public place to introduce yourself and conduct a buyer interview. 
    • 2. Leave an itinerary with the office. Let someone know what houses you will be viewing –and be sure the customer knows there is a schedule you'll be following. 
    • 3. Carry a cell phone. Stay in contact with someone while you're out in the field. 
    • 4. Don't wear flashy jewelry or carry several credit cards. Carry only a small amount of cash or one credit card, and have a key ring with just your car key and lockbox key on it. 
    • 5. Use your own car. Be in control of the presentation and be the guide. If a customer wants to drive, have him or her follow you. And don't park where you can be blocked in. 
    • 6. Always enter through the front door. If you have to use a side door, have the customers wait at the front door and let them in that way. 
    • 7. Inside the house, stay between the customer and an exit. Don't ever walk into a room first. It's safer and a better experience for the customer. 
    • 8. Create a code word or phrase to let your colleagues know that you're in need of help. Then, if you feel threatened, you could call your office and say, "Could you please call Mr. CODEWORD to cancel my appointment?" 
    • 9. Carry pepper spray if it's legal. This may be used for defense from animals, snakes or any predators and give you time to get to safety. 
© 2016 Florida Realtors®