Safety on the job isn’t just for construction workers – real estate professionals need to be vigilant to stay safe at work. As an often lone worker, real estate professionals can be a target for malicious people. Whether watching out for assault or theft, or something more mundane like a fender bender on the way to a showing, agent safety is focused on protecting you and your clients from a variety of potential problems. For National Association of REALTORS®’ REALTOR® Safety Month, we have compiled safety tips that you can use year-round to stay safe.
Create a safety-focused culture in your office. Keeping you and your coworkers safe starts with promoting a culture of safety in your office. Consider these ways to create a workspace that helps keep everyone safe:
- Create an employee checkout board to list things like employee names, destination, customer names and expected return time to ensure everyone is accounted for.
- Touch base with each other and consider setting a time for your office to call and check in with you.
- Take a group self-defense class to make sure everyone has basic self-defense skills.
- Encourage your coworkers to prioritize safety over commission checks.
- Establish office code words for trouble, such as calling into the office for “the red file” to signal that you need urgent help.
- Schedule initial meetings with new clients in the office or a public place.
- Ask that employees in your office never give away personal phone numbers of their colleagues if someone is asking to get in touch with them.
Be cautious showing properties. You’ll encounter many new people and unfamiliar areas when showing properties. Here are a few ways to stay safe along the way:
- If you can, inspect the property in advance of a showing. This will help you identify any safety risks ahead of time and scout out emergency exits, if needed.
- Let potential clients lead the way when walking through a home to ensure your exit is never blocked.
- Decline to show homes or hold open houses when it’s dark outside.
- Require open house visitors to sign in.
- Keep your phone charged and in hand during showings and open houses.
- When it comes time to close an open house, have someone you trust help you check all rooms and the yard before locking up.
- If you are confronted with a dangerous situation, always choose flight over fight. No property is worth sacrificing your safety.
Be careful with cars. Getting from property to property is likely an important part of your job, so it’s important to be safe on the road:
- Avoid breakdowns on the job by ensuring your car is regularly maintained and has enough gas to get around town.
- Do not use your cell phone while driving, as it is an easy way to get into an accident. If you are unable to use your cell phone hands-free while driving, be sure to pull over and stop in a safe, well-lit area before returning a call or responding to a text message.
- Do not drive clients in your car. Have them meet you at the property instead.
- Opt to park on the street rather than risk getting blocked in a driveway.
- Lock your car at showings and open houses.
- Pack an emergency kit for your car that includes things like non-perishable food, water, a flashlight, blanket, road flares and first aid supplies.
Promote yourself with caution. Providing too much information in public, online, or even to your clients can make you an easy target. Consider these tips for promoting your business safely:
- Limit the amount of personal information you share online or in promotions. Consider using only your office phone number instead of your personal phone number in advertisements and leaving off your photograph.
- Don’t use your full name with your middle name or initial so you can better protect your identity.
- Be careful to not give away too much information on social media, such as your current location.
- Maintain separate profiles on social media for personal use and business use. This will also help minimize the possibility that you’re giving away personal information to an identity thief.
More important than any single tip here is to always trust your gut. If something feels wrong or out of place, it probably is. Anytime you’re meeting people in empty properties, your safety should be your top priority. By taking proactive measures and always staying alert in the field, you can reduce your risk of falling victim to a crime or a dangerous situation.