As I scrolled my newsfeed this morning, I saw another story about a Realtor getting drugged at an open house in North Carolina. Stories like these have been popping up more and more.
The threat is real. And it’s well known that the majority of Realtors are women. Unfortunately, this makes agents a target for weirdos of all kinds.
The first step to staying safe is being aware. Aware of your prospect, aware of the location, aware of everything. If a prospect makes you nervous, you should probably take another person along with you. I also recommend you prequalify your clients and ask lots of questions before meeting them somewhere other than your brokerage.
Here are some other Realtor safety tips. Following any and all of these five suggestions will help you. You have nothing to lose by heeding this advice, yet a lot to lose if you don’t.
1. Show up first
Half the battle is showing up, right? For further safety precautions, I recommend you arrive at the location first. If you’re going to meet a prospect, make it to the specified address 10-15 minutes early. This way you can get the layout, come up with a safety plan, and it also keeps you from turning your back on them at the door while you open the lock box.
The bright side of showing up beforehand, is that you can also make the house more showable. See, you win. Two birds, one stone.
2. Never leave things you eat or drink lying around
The incident in North Carolina involved the suspect putting a date rape drug in the agent’s drink. Treat open houses like the bar. Never leave food or water sitting around. If you drink water all day, use a cup/bottle with a lid. Carry it with you as you show the prospect around.
Even if you think you’ve watched a prospect the whole time, they can slip by you. Remember, those who want to hurt others show up with planned intentions, expecting you not to expect.
3. Get a check-in-buddy
The buddy-system is nothing new, but it’s about as effective as a firearm. When you make a call to your brokerage in front of the prospect and say, “This is agent #12344. I’m checking in at XYZ address. Thank you, I will call as I leave and get in my car to check out,” the prospect knows someone out there is waiting on your call. That can be a big deterrent to their plans.
The key to having a check-in buddy is to make sure the prospect/suspect knows someone is expecting you. Without you displaying this fact to them up front via a phone call, the suspect wouldn’t know and it might be too late for you to get the help your buddy could give you.
4. Take a self defense course
I highly recommend you take a local self defense course. Even a 110 pound woman can throw a 200 pound man if she learns how. A quick pinch and a swift knee to the groin goes a long way in stopping a man in his tracks.
Plus, let’s be real. After a firearms course and a self defense class, you’ll be a friggin’ superhero. There are probably a dozen different courses you can take in your area right now. Take the time to complete one. If you ever need it, you’ll be glad you did.
5. Carry a firearm
Now I know there are always going to be people who don’t like firearms. With a safety course and a carry license, a firearm can be the one thing that will save your life in a dire situation. Most firearms never even get discharged. The mere sight of a gun stops a majority of criminals dead in their tracks. Never forget, criminals are cowards.
If you’re not into guns, get a taser or a stun gun. Arm yourself with something you can conceal. I hope you never have to use it, but it’s better to be insured and never have to use it than it is to need it and not have it. By that time it’s too late.
I’m not here to scare you or anything like that. I’m here to help you. I provide products to the Realtor community. I need you safe and sound so I can sell you stuff. 😃 In all seriousness, be mindful that there are individuals who prey on others for a living. It’s all they know and what they constantly think about. Implementing these tips will give you a fighting chance at fending off (or better yet, preventing) cowardly attacks by these low-lifes.
Share this with your fellow agents and brokers so they too can become aware and stay safe.