Safety While Showing Homes

Has it gotten more dangerous for REALTORS® to do their job? Your answer to this question may have changed recently, in light of a few tragic incidents. Although there have been relatively few serious incidents in recent years, there are still several questions you should consider. Should you be more wary? Yes. Are there some risks inherent to selling real estate? Yes. Are there some steps that you can take to help reduce your chances of becoming a victim? Yes.

While nothing you can do will make you absolutely safe all of the time, it is important to stay alert and keep in mind some information about personal security that can help you perform a safer sale.

In the past decade, hundreds of real estate professionals have been victims of both assaults and theft crimes. We now know that agents suffer most often and the most violent crimes while showing resale properties to clients whom the agent knows relatively little or nothing about.

In many of these cases, the scenario was nearly identical. It began when a new potential client called an agent by name at their office and asked to meet at a property as soon as possible. The potential client had a reason why there was a sense of urgency and could not first meet with the agent at the office. The story then ends in tragedy.

All of us have probably been in this type of situation at one time or another. However, just because we have never been in danger, does not mean we never will be. Real estate agents have been victims of crimes of violence in quiet, sleepy communities as well as crime-ridden ghettos of metropolitan cities. We are never immune to crime-regardless of where we live or work.

The following security procedures can mitigate the risk you face while showing homes:

  • Never meet a first-time client at a property, especially if it is vacant.
  • Never meet a new client based only on a phone call.
  • Do not show a home in the evening by yourself.
  • Pre-qualify a first-time client before rushing out to meet with them. This will save you a lot of time in addition to improving your personal security.
  • Find out as much as possible about he client in advance, such as where they work, how long they have been there, how much they make, how long they've lived in the area, etc. Then verify the information.
  • Be sure to get a legitimate home and work telephone number for the client.
  • Do not set an appointment to show a home without first meeting at the office to pre-qualify the client. (Yes, this is listed twice and for a good reason.)
  • Before you meet the client at a home or go with them anywhere, let someone at home or in the office know where you are going, with whom, and when you expect to return. This is best done in the presence of the client.
  • If a client refuses to meet with you at your office first and as a result will not do business with you, consider that you did the right thing in requesting the meeting first.
  • Regardless of who drives or whether you go together, always take your own car.
  • If you are driving the client to see property and they are leaving their car at your office, require that the client's driver's license remain in the office while you are out driving around.
  • If you are showing condominiums, you may find yourself in an elevator alone with the client. Always stand nearest to the control buttons. If you need help, hit the alarm and as many floor buttons as possible.