Maybe “risky” isn’t the first word that comes to find when you think about being a real estate agent. We hope it’s not! But, let’s be real about the serious challenges and concerns that real estate agents face on a daily basis. Anytime you are alone with complete strangers in a non-public setting— at a showing, or at open house— you are putting yourself at risk. Real estate agents can be an easy target (if they let themselves be!) for a number of crimes— from minor theft, to serious bodily harm. The savviest agents make sure that they’ve got their best interests in mind and keep safety as their #1 priority and find ways to make sure they stay safe as a real estate agent!
The only thing you have to worry about it your clients! Scroll down to see 6 steps to stay safe as a real estate agent.
1. Meet First At Your Office
Always insist that a potential client meets at your office before the two of you go to showings together. If the renter or buyer has intentions other than real estate, they won’t want to meet before in a public space. While you may feel that a no-show is a waste of your time, your personal safety is, ultimately, more important. If your office is far from the properties you are showing, or you’d not like to meet in your office, choose a well-trafficked spot. Ask to meet at a local coffee shop or cafe. There, you can have some time to chat privately about your clients’ goals, show them the neighborhood, and make sure that this potential client is really after renting or buying from you!
2. Ask For A Driver’s License
Every real estate agency has some initial paperwork that a potential client needs to provide—Consumer Information Statement, Buyer/Tenant Agency Contract, etc. Consider including a copy of the client’s driver’s license or another ID card along with other baseline piece of information. Of course, make sure to ask your broker for any suggestions they have regarding this— maybe requiring an identification card that could be a policy instituted throughout your office for the safety of all agents. Similarly to our first tip, a real client probably won’t mind. However, a “renter” or “buyer” with bad intentions would think twice before leaving a copy of their identification easily available.
3. Stay Connected
This tip to stay safe as a real estate agent might seem obvious, but always keep your cell phone in your pocket or nearby. Be ready to dial up a colleague, family member, or another emergency contact if you’re feeling unsafe.
4. Enlist Your Team
Make sure you can fall back on the support of your team! Always tell colleagues or family members where you will be and at what times, especially if you’re going somewhere late at night. Ask them if they’ll check in with you at specific intervals—when you get to the showing, after you’ve left the showing, when you’re leaving an open house. When you’re moving from one stage to the next with a client, shoot your colleague a quick text. This might be easy to forget, but, when you’re out with strangers, it’s important to let someone know where you are and with who. Encourage other members of your team to do the same and text you when they get from point A to B.
5. Take Charge of Your Open House
Make sure that you’re taking good charge of your open house! If you don’t feel comfortable working after dark, try to schedule the open house during the day before the sun’s gone down. While you’re working the house, keep track of who comes into the house and who goes to make sure no one is staying behind. Before you pack up and leave for the day, make sure to check every room before you go. When you’re checking every room, make sure you have your phone on you and you’re ready to contact emergency services if you need it.
6. Take Further Safety Courses
Looking for more ways to stay safe, and other tips and tricks to feel comfortable at all times? Whenever possible, take an agent safety course. Your local board of Realtors® or your broker may already offer a course on agent safety that you can enroll in and shape up your skills. For some extra security, think about enrolling in a local self-defense course (bonus: you’ll be able to meet people from your community and even generate some leads!) To get pro tips.
7. Stay FCRA compliant.
While breaching FCRA-compliance this might seem a bit less severe than facing bodily harm or theft, staying FCRA compliant is hugely important for real estate agents. Real estate agents can get in hot water if they don’t abide by the Fair Credit Reporting Act in its entirety. Conventional paper applications for rentals can especially put you at risk because they involve carrying around paper copies of your client’s credit scores. Of course, you can’t look at these! However, make sure that you do everything in your power to make sure no one else does— either intentionally or unintentionally. Keep all credit scores under lock and key.
Or, to be completely secure, use Rental Beast’s online application engine, Apply Now! Credit scores are processed in minutes, and securely available for only the landlord to view. All you need to do is click a few buttons and a paper-free and FCRA-compliant is sent to your client.
Related: Why An MLS is Using Apply Now
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