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The real estate industry shares a lot with Realtors about safety, but what about safety for sellers? There certainly isn’t enough advice out there, and the industry as a whole should probably take a step in the right direction and share some safety advice with clients.
As a real estate agent, taking a bit of time to talk to your sellers about safety can not only help to ensure nothing wrong happens, but at the same time, you can improve the reputation of the industry as a whole.
Talk to a seller about their valuables
Open houses and showings are common for sellers, but you need to make sure that you remind them that even though you might be present, you can’t watch every potential buyer all of the time. You should remind your sellers that it is in their best interest to put away any valuables, and you can do your part by checking IDs and asking visitors to sign in.
Remove any medications
Many sellers will remember to put their iPads away or lock up their jewelry before an open house or showing, but what about their medications? There is nothing stopping anyone from opening up a medicine cabinet and taking out prescription drugs.
You probably don’t want to put yourself at risk by confronting a potential buyer who may have taken something, so it’s best to tell your sellers to take their medications with them during a showing or open house.
Put knife blocks away
Something that can help to keep you safer during an open house or showing is asking your sellers to put knife blocks away. Most of the time there are amazing images of the interior of a home, so someone who may want to rob the place can really stake out where things are if they come in for a showing.
A Realtor may be no match for a thief who wants to take the seller’s new 4K TV, and it could be even worse if the thief can grab a knife.
Remove photos of children
Many sellers still live in the home, which means they may still have family photos. If there are photos of kids, it’s in the best interest of everyone if you ask the seller to remove them. You never know who may see them, and you could be putting the seller’s children at risk.
Advise sellers not to offer tours on their own
If your seller’s home is listed, it means that you are essentially giving an open invitation to people to look at their home. Some crooks take advantage of this, and they show up at the home, knock on the door, and spin a tale about how they are looking for a new home, simply love the place and are wondering if they could take a quick look inside.
This, of course, could be a disaster. Advise your sellers that if this happens, they should refuse to allow anyone in and tell the person to call you instead. However, it’s likely simply an innocent thing where the person is genuinely interested in the home. You never know.
Make sure they know about Craigslist scams
Check every lock following an open house or showing
You also want to talk to your sellers about making sure that they check every lock following a showing or an open house. This includes window locks. Sometimes people will come into the home, unlock a window or door without anyone knowing and then return later to break in.
One of the first things you can do to protect your sellers, and yourself, for that matter, is to talk to every seller about who they are allowing into their homes.
Don’t allow random, unverified people in, and if there is a situation like an open house or showing, make sure you see the person’s ID. If they don’t want to show identification, you don’t have to show the home.
You should also try to make this a personal practice for yourself when dealing with sellers. Another suggestion is to talk to your broker or share this information with other people in your industry. If you are feeling extra ambitious, work with other people to create a Broker Safety Policy.
Recognize all security is personal
There’s lots of security awareness training that teaches what’s above. But what most Realtor Safety Training misses is how to change agents’ behavior in such a way that they actually want to take action and make changes in the way they do business to keep themselves and their clients safe.
If agents ask themselves, “What would I actually do in the event I was confronted?” and think through what, if any, response they’d have, they’d begin to understand how unprepared they and, by default, their clients are.
Security begins with one’s self. All agents should look at their individual cares and concerns regarding their personal security. From there, they will begin to recognize risk in a much more holistic way, naturally evolving into better personal and client protection.
Author Robert Siciliano is CEO of Credit Parent, head of training and security awareness expert at Protect Now, a No. 1 best-selling Amazon author, media personality and architect of CSI Protection Certification, a cyber, social, identity and personal protection designation for real estate agents and their brokers. Follow Robert Siciliano on Twitter.