18 Essential Realtor safety tips.

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The tragic case of murdered Realtor Beverly Carter reminds everyone in the business just how vulnerable we are, and especially women who are showing houses and meeting with clients. We care deeply about keeping our beloved real estate family safe, so Blue Water Credit would like to present you those 18 essential Realtor safety tips.

1. Work on the buddy system.
Have a designated safety partner in the office, an assistant or other realtor who you coordinate your schedule with. Communicate with them via text. That way, your whereabouts are always known and the client is accountable.

2. Reference your male partner.
Whenever strangers call and ask to see a home or want to meet to do business, let them know you have a male business partner, broker, or co-agent who will be coming along or showing up soon.

3. Meet at the office.
Whenever you make first contact with a potential client, have them meet you at the office, first. Have a sign-in sheet at the front desk and write down as much information about them as you have before leaving with them. Explain that this is standard office policy and you could lose your job if you don’t comply. If they balk at this, they never really were a serious client and you just saved yourself a lot of time and energy.

4. Check people out online.
Once you make an appointment with a buyer or seller, get their name and as many details as you can via conversation. Go on social media or Google and do a little digging to make sure they are a real person. You’ll have their real name, a photo, and their story matches up. Also, realize that people are constantly looking you up online – especially female Realtors who have their contact information and photos everywhere. Be careful what you post and never share personal details. Consider having a business Facebook page and then a very private personal page.

5. Write down their details.
When you are meeting someone at a house or going to show buyers around, jot down their description and year, make, model, and license plate of their car. Text it to your safety partner or the office.

6. Check in.
When you show a house, call or text your office or safety partner to check in. Let the client know your male partner or broker will be showing up to join you soon.

7. Meet the neighbors.
A great way to stay safe at a listing or house you’re showing is to meet the neighbors. If you see people out front of their homes working or mowing their lawn, stop and say hello and introduce yourself. Let them know you’ll be in the house and introduce them to your client. This will really shake any would-be attacker. As a Realtor, you’re supposed to be knocking on doors and getting to know the neighborhood, anyway!

8. Follow, don’t lead.
As you walk around and show the house, always let them lead and you follow. If someone attacks you, it is way too easy and you’ll never see it coming from behind. So never turn your back on a prospect and keep a safe distance. Never go into certain rooms where there is no escape – like walk in closets, bathrooms, basements, etc. Stay between them and the door so you can easily get away.

9. Take photos.
As you’re looking at homes, step back and snap a few photos of rooms with the client in them, then text them to your office or safety partner. Explain that your broker or another realtor wanted more photos of this property and let them know you sent them.

10. Use your instincts.
Your gut feeling is often the best defense you have, so listen to it. Be friendly, polite, and professional but also be skeptical and stay vigilant and cautious. If something doesn’t feel right, get out of the house and out front as soon as you can.

11. Don’t go into vacant homes alone.
Too often, there are squatters in vacant homes or short sales or foreclosed homes.  The utilities sometimes don’t work so it’s dark at night. NEVER go to these properties by yourself and at night. And never advertise a home as vacant! This is a huge target for the people with bad intentions.

12. Take a fake phone call.
To discourage a client who is acting suspect, you can always pretend to call in the office or accept a fake phone call and start talking. They won’t want to attack you or demonstrate inappropriate behavior if they know you’re on the line with someone. Drop their name and your location in casual conversation. (Of course, you can make a real call, as well!)

13. Designate check-in times.
Set a time with your safety partner when you’ll check in with them. If they don’t hear from you by a certain time, they’re instructed to try and call or text you and then contact the police and your office ASAP if you don’t reply.

12. Use your phone as a weapon.
Have 911 or an emergency number preset on your phone in case you needed to call. Keep the cellular tracking and GPS functions on at all times. Dial someone immediately if things get weird.

13. Talk in code.
Designate a code word that can be texted or dropped in conversation if something is wrong. So even if an attacker forces you to text or call in to make it long like nothing is wrong, you can alert your cohorts that there’s trouble.

14. Carry a safety kit.
Carry a whistle and pepper spray on your key chain – not deep in your purse. Have flares and an extra charged-up phone battery. Keep a heavy flashlight in your car and walk with it as you tour vacant houses or houses at night. They even have flashlights that easily switch over to Tasers! Hold your keys in your hand so you can put your car key between your fingers and use it as a weapon if someone attacks. While it’s great to have a weapon like pepper spray, too often it’s deep in your purse or inaccessible as attacks happen quickly, or even doesn’t incapacitate the attacker. So your awareness, intuition, and body will be your best weapons.

15. Get safety apps.
There are numerous safety mobile apps for your smart phone. Apps like Moby, IcePics, Real Alert, SafeTREC, coordinate and communicate the tactics we documented, often automatically.

16. Be careful in your car and parking lots.
A good number of attacks happen while you are sitting idle in your car, getting in or out of your car, or walking through a parking lot. So be extra vigilant in these situations. Keep your doors locked and windows up. Scan all around you. Don’t be distracted by your cell phone or paperwork. If an attacker approaches, it will be at a 45-degree angle from behind, trying to take advantage of your blind spots so check your mirrors. Park in well-lit areas in public view, not blocked in by high trucks or vans. Be wary of men who pretend something is wrong with your car or look like they need help.

17. Don’t get in someone’s car.
An attacker’s main goal is to get you into their vehicle and then drive you somewhere remote. So NEVER get into someone’s car, even if they pull a knife or a gun on you. NEVER leave the primary crime scene. Don’t comply, even if they threaten harm. If an attacker is trying to kidnap you, they don’t want to shoot you or stab you on site, and once you’re in their car you’re completely defenseless. If you are about to be dragged into someone’s car, try scattering your driver’s license or business card or personal effects around so it will be evident there was a struggle and you are missing. But hold onto your phone and try to hide it on your person.

18. Escape.
Of course if someone is robbing you, just throw them your valuables and run. But your best course of action is to delay and escape. Any attacker has a ticking clock in their head, and the longer you can postpone, confuse them, delay, fight, or make it obvious you’re not an easy target, the more their clock will be ringing the alarm that it’s time for them to get out of there before they get caught. Scream, break a window, start throwing furniture and plants around, break a sliding glass door, kick, honk the horn – all of these things will buy you valuable seconds, and that can make all the difference.

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Realtors, have you ever felt unsafe? Were you ever attacked or had a client act in a threatening or inappropriate manner? Please share your stories and experiences, so we can all make efforts to stay safe on the job.

We’d love to show our prayers and support for Beverly Carter’s family. Please contact us if you’d like to be a part of sending a thoughtful card and gift to her family and coworkers.

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