First I would like to make it abundantly clear that is not my intention to drive fear, panic or paranoia into the Real Estate Industry, but to sensitize all practicing realtors – the newcomers, returning and experienced realtors – to the very real challenges of crime that we face in pursuit of our professional endeavours. We therefore have to pay keen attention to the protection of life and limb and property, at all times, and perhaps now more than ever.
Below are some pointers I have listed which will be both useful and informative.
- When showing residential houses which are unoccupied, be careful how you enter alone, if you must. You never know what or whom may be lurking on the other side of the door. In past years it was the norm for the realtor to arrive earlier than the client, enter and fully open up the property for its best presentation. My suggestion is to either be accompanied by another realtor from your office, or await the arrival of your client before entering. Trust me, your clients will appreciate and understand your security consciousness, and interest in both theirs and your wellbeing. However, do be mindful that you not be so over-zealous in your security alertness, that you scare away your client/s.
- Make sure you have documented all relevant and appropriate information on the client/s with whom you are meeting, including make of vehicle and license number. Cell phone numbers are no longer of much use in tracking anyone, as most are prepaid and cannot be easily tracked, and require a court-order to get the cell phone providers to take any kind of action As an added and necessary precaution, please also ensure that your office is aware of the client/s with whom you are meeting, the time of meeting and the address of the property being shown.
- Get proper clear and correct directions when making appointments to inspect prospective properties to be listed and placed on the market. Investigate the location and the area you are heading into, to ensure minimum risk to your personal safety. In most cases, the neighbors are aware and may even warn you, for your own safety. Gone are the days when criminals by and large, matched the stereotype and looked obviously like the way you may expect criminals to look. They now present themselves as very charming, intelligent, well spoken, well dressed and well accessorized in nice cars, and boasting top-of-the-line technology gadgets. In some instances, technology and overseas exposure has contributed to the honing of their criminal talent ability, creativity and application. They utilize the element of surprise to their advantage, so at all times, be alert and on the lookout!
- The same principles apply when showing remote lots. Try not to go alone unless the client/s are known to you.
- Some companies have implemented a “buddy” system where realtors no longer travel alone. Great idea! Use it. It may save your life.
- Try to end your work day before dark. Dark varies with the seasons and daylight is definitely longer during the summer. Plus, properties show better in daylight. If you have meetings after dark, in a secure location indoors, the risk is minimized. Do not take unnecessary risks. There will always be tomorrow. So make a conscious and
careful decision in your best interest.
- Be careful when working during the Christmas season. Robberies tend to escalate during this time of year. In
addition, during this period, it gets dark much earlier.
- Make yourself aware of the volatile areas. Many neighbourhoods, particularly in the urban areas, have a neighbouring “Bad Area” as they are called, either adjoining or in close proximity. It is very important therefore that you pay keen attention to location directions to avoid potential anti-social encounters. In addition, keep abreast of the current news and emergency announcements to keep you alert to what is going on around you.
- Do not travel with original documents in your vehicle. Make copies and keep the originals in a safe place. If your vehicle is stolen along with its original documents, you Could be in for a very difficult “ride” to replace them . Bear in mind too, that some insurance companies may not speedily process your claim and the wait could be “painfully” lengthy.
- Invest in an effective alarm system and tracking device for your vehicle. There is no guarantee that your vehicle may not be tampered with or stolen, but the chance of recovery is a lot better and it is certainly less costly and
stressful than having to replace your vehicle. With these devices in place, you are considered less of a risk by your insurance company, subsequently your premium should be lower. Ensure that you know what is covered under the policy that you have. Do not be “Sadder but Wiser”.
- Make copies of your driver’s license, credit cards, debit cards and any other identification you may travel with and keep those copies also in a safe place. It will be a lot easier if you need to have them replaced. Back up your
laptops, cell phones, notepads and I-pods.
- This is mainly for the ladies. Do not take around with you any unnecessary or sentimental items which cannot
be replaced. Keep them in a safe place.
- Be very careful how personal jewelry pieces are displayed when at work. With the continuous increase in the
‘Cash for Gold’ trade and now ‘Cash for Silver’ in recent years, you make yourself an immediate and irresistible target for thieves.
- For those of you who are equipped and able to ensure your own personal safety, follow your training guidelines
and adhere to the laws of the land. Do not become a victim of your own personal attempt at protection.