Real estate safety month isn’t until September, but it’s never the wrong time to talk about staying safe. Real estate can be an extremely rewarding career, but it comes with its own set of dangers. The people and even places you run across can be hazardous. Even driving in your car puts you at risk. Here are some things you should keep in mind when going about your job. We’ve also included some apps and programs you should consider investing in to make sure you are as safe as can be.
Most of the people you work with will be sincere about their interest in buying a home, but some people may not have honest intentions when they contact you. As a real estate agent, you likely publish your photo on flyers and advertisements that you post online and possibly throughout your town. Sharing your photo is a good way to start building a connection with potential leads, but it may also attract negative attention with those who would target you for less savory reasons. That’s why we recommend always meeting new leads in a public place the first time.
Open houses offer more safety challenges since you’re inviting unknown strangers into a home that you may not be 100% familiar with. Before you start allowing people into your open house, open the curtains/blinds so that passersby can see what’s going on inside the house. When your guests arrive, either stay in a main room and let your guests wander the bedrooms/bathrooms/stairways alone, or if you do show them around the house, let them enter rooms before you. You should also let someone know when you expect your open house to end and have them check on you if you don’t call them by that time. There are also a variety of apps you can use to check in with people, draw attention to your location, and contact the authorities if you start feeling uncomfortable.
While we recommend avoiding potentially dangerous situations whenever possible, you may sometimes find yourself in an unexpectedly uncomfortable situation. If you feel like your safety may be compromised, open up the Noonlight app and hold down the button until you get to safety. If you let go of the button, Noonlight will call the police to your location on your behalf.
If you don’t like apps, or aren’t sure you would be able to get to your phone in an emergency, Kitestring may be a good option for you. This SMS (text message) based program texts you after a designated time period to check in on you. If you don’t respond, they contact your emergency contact for you.
Opening this app causes your phone to emit a loud, shrill alarm. It won’t alert authorities, but it is designed to get the attention of anyone in the area.
A real estate career will take you places you’d never expect, and with unexpected locations come unexpected dangers. If you ask around, you’ll find plenty of real estate agents who’ve dealt with alligators in pools, booby-trapped foreclosure properties, and dilapidated buildings that were just too dangerous to enter.
Most agents won’t encounter such extreme situations, but you should still take care and pay close attention to your surroundings when showing houses. A lot of listings may have loose floorboards or banisters that can send you to the hospital if you’re not careful. You also have to be wary of territorial pets, holes in the yard, anthills, and other dangerous pests.
Wearing closed-toe shoes when you show homes can help protect your feet and ankles if you trip or fall, as well as help protect against ants, snakes, and other pests. If the current homeowner has left territorial or aggressive pets in the house, don’t try to deal with them yourself. Call the homeowner’s agent to reschedule the showing. If the structure of the home or any of the outbuildings seems unsafe, just don’t risk going in. Also, if you’re going to be alone at a new location, let someone know where you are and when you plan to leave so that if something does happen to you and you can’t call for help, someone can check in on you.
Letting someone know where you are doesn’t have to be a constant, involved process. Just make it a habit to add the addresses you’ll be at to your Google Calendar, and then share your calendar with someone. If they get worried, they’ll have a list of your last locations.
Google Maps does a lot more than just give you directions. The location sharing feature in particular can be helpful for real estate agents. It allows you to inform your friends, family, coworkers, or clients of your real-time location, adding an extra layer of safety when you venture away from the office. You can choose to keep location sharing on constantly or configure it to turn off after a set amount of time. Plus, only those you invite can see your location.
Cars are one of the most convenient inventions ever made, but that doesn’t change the fact that driving is an inherently dangerous activity. As a real estate agent, you likely do more driving than most people. Therefore, you should take extra precautions before you get behind the wheel.
A hands-free bluetooth headset is one of the most basic precautions you can take. It will allow you to keep both hands on the wheel when you have important incoming calls. They’re easily available online and in stores, so there is really no excuse not to find one with the features you want.
For incoming text messages and emails, an app like messageLOUD will read your text messages and emails aloud so you can keep your eyes on the road while keeping up on your inbox.
You should also subscribe to a roadside assistance program like AAA. This service will help you get back on the road if your car breaks down, the battery dies, you get a flat tire, run out of gas, or get locked out of the car.
Working with buyers may take you to some hazardous locations, but you can help your clients keep their homes in tip-top shape by providing them with a free Home Maintenance and Inspection Schedule. Fill out the form here to download your free, brandable guide.