Staying Safe: A Guide for Real Estate Agents

By Sanjog Gopal Published 10/25/2007 | Real Estate

On the surface, the real estate industry is all about  wheeling and dealing, and million dollar deals. Financial risk is a given, but  physical risk can be part of the job as well. Not many people think of real  estate as being a dangerous profession, but in reality, agents are put face to  face with strangers on a daily basis. Hosting open houses, or showing homes to  clients can put agents at risk for being robbed, carjacked, and assaulted.

Robbery is the most common risk that agents face. Agents  typically dress in nice clothing, wear jewelry, and carry high tech devices  such as PDA's. The house itself is also at risk because the homeowner is not  usually present at the time of showing. Real estate agents should be cautious  with what they carry on their person. Leave expensive jewelry at home, and  don't carry more cash than is absolutely necessary. As for the house, have the  homeowners remove anything that could be a potential target for theft.

Sexual assaults can occur when an agent is alone either in  their office, or in a house with a client. The best defense is prevention.  Avoid being alone at open houses as much as possible. Try to have a co-worker  or friend accompany you. If that isn't feasible, call the office every hour to  let them know that everything is okay. Set up a policy that if the office  hasn't heard from you in one or two hours, they should call you immediately on  your cell phone.

If you are alone at the office, keep windows and doors  locked. Consider playing music to give the impression that multiple people are  present. Some experts suggest that you should close curtains and blinds  so that people can't see if you're alone, while others argue that by leaving  curtains drawn, the public can have a clear view of anything that happens,  thereby keeping you safe by exposure.

Having a safe word for your office is a very good idea,  particularly for house viewings. This is a word or phrase that you can say on  the phone to let your office know that something is wrong, without alerting the  predator. You can have one general safe word, or have a few codes for varying  degrees of danger.

Being alone at an open house is very risky. There are rooms  that the predator can hide in, or drag you into. Let the client enter rooms  first. This prevents you from being taken from behind, and also keeps you close  to the exits. Don't go into isolated areas like basements and attics. Allow  them to view those areas on their own.

Other precautions that you can take include having a new  client meet you at the office, before going to a property. Photocopy their  driver's license, or write down their license plate number. Introduce the  person to a couple of co-workers. You not only want the office to have this  information in the event of an emergency, but also, it decreases the chances  that the client will try anything criminal. He knows that others have seen his  face and have his information.

Give the office your itinerary for the day, including the  addresses of all houses being shown and a time line for activities. The more  information that you provide your co-workers or family with, the safer you will  be. Although these actions cannot guarantee your wellbeing, you will have  increased the chances of being rescued quickly, and returned to safety.

Open houses are where agents are most vulnerable. Often,  they work alone, and spend the day opening the door to strangers. People with  malicious intentions can easily put on the guise of being a potential buyer,  and can gain the trust of an unsuspecting agent. Keep in mind is that both men  and women can be victimized, and that both sexes can be predators, so do not  let your guard down. Take a few simple precautions, listen to your instincts,  and take care on the job.

Sanjog Gopal is a Phoenix real estate agent. Passionate  about his job, Sanjog goes the extra mile for his clients. If you would like to  invest in Scottsdale AZ real estate, see