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Staying Safe While Selling

October 21, 2010

Safety Band-AidsWhen you are selling a home, you often do things that your mom would have warned you against. You have to be friendly to strangers, go to unfamiliar and sometimes out-of-the-way locations alone, and meet people you don’t know at night and on weekends.  Everything you were ever taught about staying safe goes against common practices in real estate, but you can protect yourself with some simple, common sense planning.

1.  Know who you are meeting.

So many unsafe situations can be avoided with this step. People with bad intentions are wary about providing information about themselves, so you may scare them off immediately with the request. Before you go anywhere with new clients, photocopy their driver’s licenses, and write down license plate numbers.   Don’t be tempted to skip this step because the prospect is a referral!  Many referring agents or friends don’t personally know the person they’ve referred either.

2. Know where you are going.

Are you showing a property that is off-the-beaten path, in a poor neighborhood, an area without cell phone coverage, or a quiet subdivision?  It’s surprising how many agents map a property so they know how to get there, but don’t research the area for safety considerations. If you know that you’re showing a property that’s secluded or in a crime-filled area, you can take steps to avoid being surprised with trouble.

3.  Make it public.

Make it your policy to have clients come to your office so you’re meeting in a busy place with other people around. If something seems off, you can make an excuse to reschedule the showings or ask another agent to join you.  When you do head out, leave behind specifics on the properties you are going to. If something goes awry and you aren’t where you said you would be, red flags will go up.

4. Bring a Buddy.

Real estate professionals are often alone. Because people come in and out of open houses unnoticed, Realtors can be in danger if they encounter the wrong person. Never do an open house alone, even if it’s a great neighborhood or in the middle of the day. Partner with another agent or ask a family member to come with you. When showing a house, let prospects lead and don’t go into basements or attics with them. Guide them to those areas, but remain on the main floor and answer their questions when they return.

5. Cell Phone Smarts

If the property has cell phone coverage, be prepared to use your phone as a safety tool. Don’t leave it in a purse or briefcase; keep it on you. If you have text messaging, plan ahead and set up a code to let others know if you need help.  One Realtor used the code – “The key is in the flower pot” to tell a fellow agent all was well, but would text “The key is under the garbage can” if she was in trouble.

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