Guest writer: Jennifer Cassetta, clinical nutritionist, personal trainer and self-defense expert.
Real estate agents have a great job that offers flexibility, the opportunity to earn a great living and even fun by helping people find the home of their dreams. However, with this job description can come potential danger. Realtors are often in homes with complete strangers while giving an open house or a private showing. Allowing a client in your car and even your marketing may be leaving you open to potential vulnerability.
Here are 8 basic steps for realtors to enhance their personal safety:
- Scan for red flags
When meeting a new client or going into a home or property be on alert and practice situational awareness. Look for strange signals your client may be giving off: sweating, nervous behavior, or their story isn’t making sense. Do the same when entering a property. Put your detective cap on and make sure you know where all the exits are. Look for red flags that may suggest your client is up to no good. Listen to your intuition and if you don’t feel safe for any reason, exit the property and leave the situation as fast as you can.
- Command authority
Use strong body language to communicate non-verbally that you are running the show. The client shouldn’t be able to coerce you to go to an area of a house that you don’t feel comfortable being in. Take the lead and direct the client where to go and follow them. Don’t ever have your back to the client.
- Get acquainted
Never schedule a showing to someone who won’t come to your office first. Once you meet at your office, you can ask for a piece of identification and make a copy for you records. If there is a client who refuses either formality, you can say that this is your policy and if they don’t want to comply, they can go elsewhere).
- Minimize alone time at showings
Ask a coworker, spouse, friend or family member to come with you when you show a home. Or at the very least, before you leave, tell your coworkers, family or friends where you are, whom you are with and when you expect to return.
- Don't get in the same car as your client
Ask the client to follow you in their own car.
- Carry pepper spray
Having a pepper spray, which is legal to carry in all 50 states, is a necessity for a realtor who is out in the field, dealing with strangers. Have one in your car hidden in your center console for easy access as well as one that you carry on your person.
- Learn self-defense
Learning how to defend yourself is key in this business. You just never know when you might be targeted for a crime and should always be on alert. Take a class or join a martial arts studio to get fit at the same time.
- Keep income level and personal details private
Avoid flashy marketing materials that may show off expensive jewelry or come off as provocative to a would-be predator. Be careful who you share personal information with. Strangers do not have to know where you live, who you live with and anything about your children. You can develop professional relationships with clients without having to be too personal.