When you are showing an empty property, you can take these simple steps to empower yourself against attack or theft.
- Be sure to use a lockbox property-key procedure that has been established to improve real estate agent safety. A reliable, secure lockbox system ensures that keys don’t fall into the wrong hands.
- Show properties before dark. If you are going to be working after hours, advise your associate or first-line supervisor of your schedule. If you must show a property after dark, turn on all lights as you go through and don't lower any shades or draw curtains or blinds.
- Try and call the office once an hour to let people know where you are.
- If you think it may be some time before a property sells (and you may, therefore, be showing it often), get acquainted with a few of the immediate neighbors. You will feel better knowing they know your vehicle, and they will feel better about the stranger (you) who frequently visits their neighborhood.
- Prepare a scenario so that you can leave, or encourage someone who makes you uncomfortable to leave. Examples: Your cell phone or beeper went off and you have to call your office, you left some important information in your car, or another agent with buyers is on his way.
- In showing a property, always leave the front door unlocked for a quick exit while you and the client are inside. As you enter each room, stand near the door.
- Lock your purse in the car trunk before you arrive. Carry only non-valuable business items (except for your cell phone), do not wear expensive jewelry or watches, and do not appear to be carrying large sums of money.
- Park at the curb in front of the property rather than in the driveway. You will attract much more attention running and screaming to the curb area. It is much easier to escape in your vehicle if you don't have to back out of a driveway. Besides, parked in a driveway, another vehicle could purposefully or accidentally trap you.
(Sources: Louisiana REALTORS® Association; Washington Real Estate Safety Council; City of Albuquerque, New Mexico; Nevada County Association of REALTORS®; City of Mesa, Ariz.)