Realtor Safety

Don’t Be a Victim

REALTOR® safety is an important element of our business that is often overlooked or ignored. Don’t be a victim and develop a safety plan for you and your office. Encourage others to do the same. Please use the materials provided on this site to assist you in developing your plan.

Meeting Prospective Clients

Here are 10 steps you can follow to help take the risk out of meeting prospects and clients:

  1. Make sure you are not alone in the office when meeting someone. If you are alone, call a “buddy” before the prospect or client is due to arrive and ask them to call and check on you 15 minutes into the visit. Then call them back when the person has left your office.
  2. Ask each new client or prospect to stop by your office and complete a Prospect Identification Form, preferably in the presence of an associate.
  3. When the person arrives, get the make, model and license number of their car. Check this information yourself – don’t just take their word for it. You can do this discreetly by watching them drive up, glancing out at their car, or checking it when you leave the office.
  4. Use a registration book for all clients and other visitors. Be careful to make sure that everyone signs in.
  5. Photocopy the client’s driver’s license and retain this information at your office. Legitimate clients should not mind you copying their driver’s license. People freely show their licenses to the clerk at the grocery store when they write checks, and show their IDs to rent a movie.
  6. Get personal references as well as employment and home information. Then check all references and verify employment and current address. Check county property records to confirm ownership.
  7. Introduce the prospect to someone in your office. A would-be assailant does not like to be noticed or receive exposure, knowing a person could pick him/her out of a police lineup.
  8. Always let someone know where you are going; leave the name and phone number of the client you are meeting.
  9. When talking to any client or prospect, be careful not to share any personal information – specifically, details on where you live or information that can allow the person to pinpoint your home.
  10. When showing a property, always leave the front door wide open while you and the client are inside. As you enter each room, stand near the door.

This article is part of the National Association of REALTORS® 2005 REALTOR® Safety Week Kit.

Hosting an Open House

Open houses are regular events for REALTORS®, but they expose you to potentially dangerous situations. Take these simple steps to help ensure your personal safety during these events.

  1. Let the local police know when and where you are hosting an open house. Ask them to have a squad car drive by at least once during the open house.
  2. Inform a close neighbor that you will be hosting the open house, and ask if he or she would keep an eye and ear open for anything out of the ordinary.
  3. When you first enter an empty home, check each room and determine several escape routes. Make sure all deadbolt locks are unlocked to facilitate a faster escape. (Remember to lock up again when you leave!)
  4. Once you enter, turn on the lights and open the curtains. These are not only good safety habits, but can also help you sell the place.
  5. Scope out the backyard and make sure that if you had to escape by the back door, you could get out of the yard. Check any gates.
  6. Place one of your business cards, with the date and time written on the back, in a kitchen cabinet. Note on it if you were the first to arrive or if clients were waiting.
  7. When prospects begin to arrive, jot down their car descriptions, license numbers and physical descriptions. When you show a home, always let the prospect walk ahead of you. Direct them; don’t lead them. Say, for example, the kitchen is on your left – gesture for them to go ahead of you.
  8. Notify someone in your office, your answering service, a friend or a relative that you will be calling in every hour on the hour. And if you don’t call, they are to notify the police immediately.
  9. Don’t assume that everyone has left the home at the end of your open house. Check each room and closet and the backyard prior to locking the doors. Check any windows or sliding doors to make sure they are still locked. Be prepared to defend yourself, if necessary.

Sources: Washington Real Estate Safety Council; City of Mesa, Arizona; Pinehurst North Carolina Police Department
This article is part of the National Association of REALTORS® 2005 REALTOR® Safety Week Kit.

Response to a Physical Attack

Fight or Flight?

Consider the Best Response to a Physical Attack

If you were to find yourself alone in a property with a client who turned out to want to harm you or rob you, what would you do? Would you put up a fight or try to escape?

It isn’t pleasant to think about, but it’s important to know the facts. Experts agree that when escape is an option, that is the route you should take. While every REALTOR® should take a basic self-defense course, the primary goal in any incident is to escape from the danger and call for help.

When faced with potentially menacing behavior, you should first try to find a discrete way of removing yourself from the situation. Try to avoid triggering the emotion a predator might use to justify an attack. For example, you can say that you need to step outside to make a phone call and then don’t come back inside.

If an attack does occur, trust yourself and stay as calm as possible. Think rationally and evaluate your options. There is no single right way to respond to a confrontation, because each situation is different. Your response should depend on the circumstances: the location of the attack, your personal resources, the characteristics of your assailant and the presence of weapons. There are many strategies that are effective, but you must rely on your own judgment to choose the best one.

  • No resistance: Not resisting can be the proper choice in a given situation. An attacker with a gun or a knife may put you in a situation where you think it is safer to do what he or she says. If someone tries to rob you, give up your property, not your life.
  • Stalling for time: Appear to go along with the attacker. This might give you time to assess the situation. When his guard is down, try to escape.
  • Distraction and then flight: Obviously you should try to get away, but whether you can depends on many things, including your shoes and clothing, physical stamina, the terrain and your proximity to your attacker.
  • Verbal assertiveness: If someone is coming toward you, hold out your hands in front of you and yell “Stop!” or “Stay back!” Criminals have been known to leave a victim alone if he or she yelled or showed that he or she was not afraid to fight back.
  • Physical resistance: If you decide to respond physically, remember that your first response should be to flee the area or the home. Act quickly and decisively to throw the attacker off guard while you get away. Your personal safety is your first priority. Property can be replaced, but the value of your life and health is beyond measure. Also, you should familiarize yourself with your state’s laws concerning self-defense, including the issue of what is proper or improper use of force to defend yourself during an attack.
  • Observation: Be sure to make an effort to get an accurate description of your attacker. Even the smallest details may give authorities a clue to finding the suspect.

Source: North Carolina Association of REALTORS®
This article is part of the National Association of REALTORS® 2005 REALTOR® Safety Week Kit.

How to Choose a Self-Defense Class

There are many options for self-defense classes in most communities. The best way to find a good class is to learn what is available, and then make a decision. Start by:

  • Looking at local health clubs to see if they offer a class
  • Checking your local (or online) Yellow Pages under “self-defense”
  • Asking your fellow REALTORS®, friends and family if they have taken a self-defense class that they would recommend

Once you know what there is to choose from, find out more about each option. What does the class cover? What qualifications does the teacher have? Will the content be applicable to a REALTOR® and the unique dangers you may face?

What a Good Class Will Include

Look for a class with a broad focus, which will include information on how to recognize dangerous individuals and situations, how to avoid them and how to react in an attack.

Keep in mind that a good self-defense class should include these philosophical points:

  1. No one asks for, causes, invites, or deserves to be assaulted. Women and men sometimes exercise poor judgment about safety behavior, but that does not make them responsible for the attack. Attackers are responsible for their attacks and their use of violence to overpower, control and abuse another human being.
  2. Whatever a person’s decision in a given self-defense situation, whatever action she or he does or does not take, that person is not at fault. Someone’s decision to survive the best way she can must be respected. Self-defense classes should not be used as a judgment against a victim/survivor.
  3. Good self-defense programs do not tell an individual what he or she should or should not do. A program should offer options, techniques, and a way of analyzing situations. A program may point out what usually works best in most situations, but each situation is unique and the final decision rests with the person actually confronted by the situation.
  4. Empowerment is the goal of a good self-defense program. The individual’s right to make decisions about her participation must be respected. Pressure should not be brought to bear in any way to get someone to participate in an activity if she’s hesitant or unwilling.

Source: National Coalition Against Sexual Assault Self-Defense AD-HOC Committee
This article is part of the National Association of REALTORS® 2005 REALTOR® Safety Week Kit.