Editor’s note: This is the second article in a two-part series for Realtor® Safety Month.
The typical Realtor® meets prospective clients they’ve never met before, either at the office or in a neutral location, 66% of the time, according to the National Association of Realtors® 2022 Member Safety Residential Report.
Many in the real estate industry mistakenly believe that crimes against agents are random, opportunistic street crimes when, in fact, they are premeditated by a predatory criminal, according to David Legaz, a New York real estate broker, instructor and retired New York Police Department sergeant.
Legaz said, “Criminals need to get an agent isolated where they cannot be seen or heard to commit the attack. They will try to make you feel comfortable and confident with them. This is why meeting at the office or a coffee shop and getting a copy of their driver’s license may not alone deter a predator or prevent a crime.”
“The best safety tool is free and doesn’t require batteries. It’s that voice inside your head, your gut feeling, your sixth sense or your intuition,” according to David Legaz, a New York real estate broker, instructor and retired New York Police Department sergeant.
Employ Active Listening
Agents should employ active listening techniques to look for inconsistencies and red flags during conversations.
“Based on the conversation and your gut feeling, being in their company will determine if you should go on the appointment alone, bring a friend or not take the appointment,” Legaz said.
Deterring Predator at the Showing
Legaz advises to stand on the porch step at the showing and reach down to greet the purchaser.
“When the predator is forced to look up to you, psychologically, you do not appear weak or vulnerable,” he said. “Your greeting should include a good, firm handshake, a universal sign of strength and assuredness.”
When to Bring a Friend
There are four times an agent should bring someone to an appointment:
- The property is vacant as a predator has selected that property so you can be isolated and not heard.
- The property has poor cell service, where you cannot access your safety app or call for help.
- You have an uncomfortable feeling before the appointment, which many Realtors® who were attacked have reported.
- You haven’t closed a deal in a while and may be too eager to make a deal and ignore the voice inside your head warning you that something may be wrong.
Open House Best Practices
There are several best practices to use to ensure your safety during an open house:
- Notify the neighbors to keep an eye and ear out for you. You can accomplish this by knocking on doors with a partner or mailing postcards to the block.
- Host the open house with a partner and control traffic by allowing one group in at a time. The partner doesn’t have to be a licensee; they could be a mortgage professional, family member or friend.
- If you cannot have a partner, have them drop you off, pick you up, or call you every 30 minutes.
- Determine your escape routes and whether you wish to have all the doors locked.
- Ask for the potential buyer’s ID.
- Do not allow any stragglers into the house as you are locking up or retrieving your signs. This is the most dangerous time of an open house.
Best Safety Tool
“The best safety tool is free and doesn’t require batteries. It’s that voice inside your head, your gut feeling, your sixth sense or your intuition,” Legaz said. “Most agents who were victims of a crime recall having a feeling that they ignored or rationalized. They regret not listening to their instincts.”
For more information on preventing crime without sacrificing the sale, visit SafeSellingBook.com to read Legaz’s and Lee Goldstein’s co-authored free safety e-book and visit NAR.Realtor/Safety.