I have been part of the real estate industry for many years, both in Canada and now in France, and I have many friends and family who are working or have worked in the industry. As an agent, I know we take risks in our daily work, and I was deeply saddened when I read about the murder of Beverly Carter last year.
I am concerned for agents who don’t know street-smart principles to protect themselves every day. After I read about Carter, I decided to take a short guidebook I wrote while teaching self-defense classes and expand it.
Here are 13 tips included in my guidebook:
1. All crimes are crimes of opportunity and availability. Never put valuable objects (like cameras) in the trunk of your car when you arrive at your destination. This can inspire an attack if someone is watching you. Always place items you wish to secure in the trunk before you depart for your appointment.
2. Do not overburden yourself with items when you are walking from your vehicle or to and from your office or an appointment. Always keep one hand free.
3. If your vehicle style permits it, leave your vehicle with the passenger seat pushed all the way forward — if it is pushed back when you return to your car, you know someone has been inside your vehicle.
4. Have your keys in your hand before you enter an underground parking lot so that you don’t have to search for them when you arrive at your vehicle.
5. Fully charge your mobile phone before you go to an appointment.
6. Make sure you have a charging system for your mobile device in your vehicle.
7. If you have to make an emergency phone call, do not phone your office; phone the police.
8. Avoid carrying expensive new technology in an obvious manner. For example, avoid using an Apple-branded computer bag.
9. If someone calls or stops by your office looking for a salesperson, do not give out information about members of your sales force or where they are. And never give out home phone numbers or addresses — even if the person says he is a friend of the agent.
10. Never meet new clients in a remote area alone. It is not even wise to travel to a remote area with any client that you do not know very well. Even if you have seen the client a few times, be cautious; they are a client, not a friend. How well do you really know them?
11. When you meet new clients, do not hesitate to ask to photograph an ID and email it to your office as a matter of office policy. Ask the office to confirm receipt of the ID.
12. Avoid talking about money and valuables with colleagues and clients in public places — you do not know who is listening.
13. Fill your car up with gas during daylight hours. Go to a full-service station if there’s one available. If you go to a self-service station, lock the car when you go to pay.
If you liked these tips, you can request the full 50-tip version of the guide for free as my gift to those in the industry.