I’m glad you asked because this topic is one of the least considered, and possibly most crucial topics to think about throughout your real estate career. The risks associated with working in the real estate industry are very real and not diminished with age, experience, gender, physical size, or size of ego. As a REALTOR® you should regularly do a check up on your practice to ensure you haven’t been getting sloppy in the area of safety. Here are a couple of basics to think about.
Office First PolicyIf someone calls you up and says they want you to help them find a home, here is a pro tip - use home-court advantage. After answering customary ‘what kind of home?’, ‘what price range?’ etc. questions, the very next statement from your lips should be ‘Great, when can you come to the office?’. By making this statement you may be weeding out bad actors if they assume your office will have people, possibly cameras, etc., which could make them a bit anxious if they were planning on doing you harm. By meeting at a coffee shop you lose that advantage despite there being other people there, or worse yet, you put yourself at greater risk when meeting directly at the home they want to see.
Showing ExpectationWhen you are working with a buyer you haven’t met before and arranging a showing tour of properties with them, ask the question, “So who will be attending the showings?” This way if they show up with additional people, or you are expecting a female and instead a male shows up, you can be on alert.
The Buddy SystemYou learned it during your pre-school field trip to the park, and it is still a great system today. If you find yourself showing a property that is vacant, in the evening, out of town, or all of the above, or your gut simply tells you something isn’t quite right, reschedule or refuse. If the siren call of a potential commission drives you onward, use the buddy system. Ask your spouse, friend, co-worker, or sibling to come for the ride. The simple presence of another person could be enough of a deterrent if someone had nefarious plans. You might have to buy your buddy a coffee, but they are unlikely to refuse to help.
The Showing GameMake this one a regular part of your practice for all open houses, pre-listing appointments, and showings so you never forget to do it. The showing game is where you never enter a room, hallway, or basement before your clients. Make it like a game in your mind where you are constantly inviting the clients to go ahead of you with the phrase ‘after you’ and the appropriate hand gesture. The reality is that you must always be able to maintain a straight line of escape to an exit. If you enter a bedroom ahead of the client and they stand in the door, you have unwittingly cut off your only means of escape from a bad situation. In addition…guys…it doesn’t matter how big or tough you are, if you are heading down the steps to the basement and you get a foot in your back, you are in a pile of hurt at the bottom of the steps in a basement. Don’t get caught unaware, just make it a regular game.
Secret Distress CodeThis is not intended to make you into a secret agent but to pre-establish, a distress code with a spouse, friend, or even your broker/office staff, is prudent and potentially life-saving. If you find yourself in an uncomfortable situation and are feeling nervous, you simply make a quick phone call to your pre-arranged distress code individual. “Hi Tom, I’m just over at 123 Happy Hollow and just realized I forgot the file for my next meeting, could you run it over here for me right away?” This pre-arranged script would alert the person you call that you need them, and where you are without tipping off the person you are with.
All of these tips can be quite easily adopted into your daily routine for the rare circumstance you find yourself in a bad situation. In addition, AREA has partnered with Kinetic Global to offer their global safety app to all Alberta REALTORS® at no charge, so visit our website to learn more. As a parting tip, remember your parents' advice and make sure someone knows where you are... Oh, and eat your vegetables.
September is REALTOR® Safety Month. Visit the National Association of REALTORS® for more safety tips and tricks.
Provincial Practice Advisor
Bryan has many years of experience in the real estate industry including over 10 years as a former broker in the Edmonton Region.
Email: email@example.comPhone: 403-209-3619