Showing a home can put a real estate agent in a vulnerable position. They’re alone in a vacant property with someone they may have only talked to very briefly by phone or via email.
It doesn’t matter if you’re in a listing worth more than $1 million or in a gated community. It’s important for agents, or anyone, to be prepared for anything to happen. Agents need to take charge of their own safety. The most important thing to know: Awareness is your best defense.
Here are tips for boosting your awareness:
• Don’t stand out. While it’s important to look nice when representing a client at a showing, don’t make yourself an easy target by wearing conspicuous jewelry, watches, purses or parking your nice car in front of the house.
• Learn physical self-defense. It takes one second for an attacker to travel 18 feet. Take a self-defense techniques class. Practice and retake regularly or annually. At a minimum, carry pepper spray and remember to replace it annually when it expires.
• Have an exit strategy. Keep all lights on, shades open and deadbolts and sliders unlocked before a showing. Walk the interior and exterior of the home prior, planning two escape routes out of every room and the backyard. Keep the front door locked, deciding who comes inside.
• Let someone know where you are. Whether meeting prospects or vendors, be certain somebody knows exactly what time you’ll be home. Install a GPS app on your phone, such as Life360 or BSafe. BSafe is a safety app in which users create a “social safety network” who are notified in an emergency. Voice-activated, it sends an SOS with GPS location, while streaming sound and video. Keep your phone on you with BSafe activated before entering the home. It will be difficult to activate your phone while under attack.
It’s important to trust your instincts. If you’re uncomfortable, be mindful of that feeling and figure out your exit strategy. Remember, your safety is up to you. Awareness is your best defense!
Julie Morris is a real estate agent with HomeSmart.