Yes, the title isn’t very nice, and you should certainly see it as offensive. But, here’s the truth. Realtors often find themselves getting into some dangerous situations, and for decades, I have been trying to spread the word. But it’s not working. Instead, I hear the same thing over and over and over…
“Thoughts and prayers….”
Guess what? That doesn’t work either.
Let’s look at some stats. In 2020, about 4 percent of Realtors reported that they were accosted in some way by someone when on the job. Though this might seem like a small number, consider this: when you look at the population of the entire country, about 2 percent of people are physically attacked. What does this mean for you? If you are a Realtor, your odds of being a victim are twice as high as the average person.
No one in this industry is immune. One Realtor shared her first-hand experience on Facebook:
“I often work on referrals, and I went to meet a woman today who contacted me via my website. She told me that she would meet me at the property, which was an occupied rental. The seller was there, but so were four men. It was a small, cramped house, and after I got there, she said that the tenant, one of the men, would take me around to show the property. I immediately got an uneasy feeling…”
“He took me around the first floor of the house, and then we went upstairs. There, we met a fifth man, who stands behind me. I really started freaking out, then, and my heart was beating out of my chest. Quickly, I made some excuses to get back downstairs, and I pulled my phone out to text my location to my assistant. I briefly told the seller that something came up, and I left.
“I’m only 100 pounds and barely 5 feet tall. I would be no match for any of them, and I realized as I was walking quickly to my car that no one knew where I was until I sent that text. Thankfully nothing happened to me this time, but it could have been bad.”
As a Realtor, odds are good that you have been in a similar situation. It might seem like nothing to you to meet a seller you don’t know at a property, and sometimes you don’t know who is going to be there, especially if it is occupied. When the seller said the tenant would give the tour, this should have been a huge red flag.
In this story, the agent realized that something was off, and she removed herself from the situation. But, it was extremely scary, and she shouldn’t have put herself in that situation to begin with. Though this particular story wasn’t a total disaster, in plenty of situations, the real estate agents are not that lucky. So, stay smart, be vigilant, and if something seems off, it probably is, so trust your instincts.
Also, here are 12 tips to keep you alive while you work as a real estate agent:
- Check IDs – You have the right to ask for the ID for any potential buyer or seller before you show a home. Require them to email or text a photo even before meeting. Take a photo of the ID and save it to your phone. You should also consider texting it to someone, so they know who you are with. If someone doesn’t let you do this, it’s a red flag.
- Prequalify – Someone who has documentation showing they are prequalified by a lender is less likely a predator.
- Google them – Before you meet with a new buyer or seller, Google them. If anything seems weird, you don’t have to meet them. You can also create some type of questionnaire, so you get a little insight into their lives before meeting them the first time.
- Bring someone with you – If you have an assistant, family member, or friend who is available when showing a home, bring them. Make sure that the buyer or seller you are meeting knows that they are coming with you.
- Only show homes during the day – It’s best to only show a home when it is light out. You will be a bit safer.
- Try to find an escape – Do your best to stay near the exits of a home you are showing, or at least always have a path to the exits in mind. Don’t go into any areas that might be dangerous, like a basement or attic, where you couldn’t get help. It is okay to let the buyer look at these areas on their own.
- Know what you are getting into – When you go into a home for the first time, do your best to get a “lay of the land” quickly. Again, this is so you can make a quick escape if you need to.
- Stay vigilant – Even if the people you are with seem safe, always stay vigilant and don’t let your guard down. Anyone can be a potential attacker.
- Trust your instinct – If something seems like it might be off, it probably is.
- Advertise in the right way – When you advertise a showing, do it in a smart way. Make sure that people know that they can only view a home by appointment, and that you need to check IDs before showing the home.
- Pay attention to your dress – Don’t wear expensive clothing or jewelry.
- Learn self-defense – Understanding the vulnerable parts of the human anatomy and knowing how to respond under adrenal stress is the most effective way to get out of a dangerous situation.
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.