Recently in Chicago, the real estate community was stunned to learn that an agent was attacked by an individal posing as a buyer for a property listed by the agent. Here is a link to the news article regarding the attack: http://chicago.cbslocal.com/2012/12/05/real-estate-agent-sexually-assaulted-on-job-in-northwest-indiana/ The attack should be a wake up call to all agents to take reasoable steps to protect themselves from such attacks. Here are a few ideas that may help:
1. First, know your client. Sounds simple but you would be surprised how many agents go out on showings based solely on a request for a showing. Yes, we are all eager to close more deals and want to make the client happy, but you should always insist on screening clients before any showings. Our firm requires all clients to contaact a mortgage broker prior to embarking on any showings. Screening will certainly limit the chances os a personal attack as the person knows his idenity is available to others.
2. Request photo identification prior to showings. This is certainly a reasonable request and if questioned you can explain that it is simply your policy for your personal safety. Collect home, work and cel phone numbers and a physical address.
3. Have the client meet you at your brokerages offices. At your office, introduce you client to your bbroker, a fellow agent or your offices' administrative staff. Again, you want your prospective client to know that his identity is known. Have someone note the person's license plate number , make and model of car.
4. Always inform your office or a colleague of your schedule. This point is particularly important if you are working with a clint for the first time. If you can, share your calendar with a colleague and always note thae name of the person with who you have appointments and the properties that you are scheduled to see.
5. Be smart! Sounds simple, but there are many things we as agents overlook. Don't schedule showings at odd hours. Know the property you intend to show. Do not show properties unaccompanied by another agent in any area you personally feel uncomfortable. Many new agents in your office would certaily be eager to tag along on a showing.
6. Know the property you are showing and show smart. Know where exits are located. Always allow your client to lead into rooms as you follow and explain. Don't turn your back. Don't enter rooms that are unlit or that are not easily accessible (i.e. basements, garages, shed, storage rooms etc.).
7. Carry protection (no, not that kind). Carry a key chain can of mace, or a whistle. Carry a flashlight. Always have your cell phone close at hand.
8. Trust your instincts. A legitimate customer should never take issue with the steps you take to protect yourself and your precautions may well show the client that you are a concientious person who will endeavor to take such care with your representation of their interest as well.
Be Safe Agents!. Feel free to add comments with any tips that you consider wise.