While showing a vacancy to potential tenants is part of the job, it can be pretty dangerous. Even if your leads have seemed only interested in the vacancy to this point, ultimately your lead is a stranger and you might not know their true intentions.
Safety Tips for During the Tour
The time when you are likely most vulnerable (when you should be on your toes) is during the actual tour. Most of the time, not only are you alone, but many real estate agents walk ahead of the potential applicant when showing a vacancy. Lauren Boston, a writer for NAA’s magazine, Units, stresses that you should always maintain a safe distance between you and your lead. This means you should always walk next to or behind your lead so that if you get attacked, there’s enough space to react and escape. When in the vacancy, try to stay in open entry ways and let your lead explore the room on their own. Never put yourself in a situation where the vacancy’s doors can be closed or locked, or where you could be trapped in a small space like a bathroom or closet. To try and solve this, prop all of your vacancy’s doors open and flip the front door’s deadbolt. This makes it so that the front door will never close 100%.
Additionally, keep the blinds open in all of the property’s rooms. This not only makes the rental property look more attractive to potential applicants, but it disallows privacy. Of course, during the tour you should always be aware of how much personal information you’re giving away to your lead. If your lead turns out to be a suspicious and dangerous person, you might regret giving away that information.
Have a Safety Device on You
It’s important that at the very least you have one safety device on you while showing rental properties to leads. That being said, while having pepper spray is a viable safety device, it can easily be turned against you. To be especially cautious, in addition to having safety devices (like pepper spray or mace), consider keeping a pocket-sized personal alarm. These devices can be put on your key chain and are typically disguised to look like car alarms. When pressed, it blasts a loud sound and can startle an attacker enough to give you time to make your escape. There are also products that allow you to make a 911 call with your panic button, but these typically have a monthly fee.
While it’s doubtful that an attacker or kidnapper will let you have your cell phone for long, safety apps are successful in situations where you can discretely use your phone like in an active shooter situation. One common one is the Red Panic Button app. This app sends out a call for help with your current location to your set emergency contacts through text, email, and Facebook and Twitter message. Additionally, you can set it so that it takes only a few steps to activate. No matter what, your safety is paramount. That being said, it’s up to you to figure out what safety devices your most comfortable carrying around.
In-Office Safety Measures
Before even showing a property, there are a lot of different things you can do to ward off potentially dangerous situations. First and foremost, you should always arrange showings during daylight hours, never at night. Although it might seem more convenient for your lead and bring your tenant search to a close, it puts you in a dangerous situation. If your gut is telling you to be careful of a particular lead, bring a friend to the showing. Showing in numbers will give you more confidence when talking to a lead you’re not sure about.
If you have the contact information of a lead, a good policy to have before showings is to notify someone of your plans. Fellow real estate agents you’ve agreed to group up with or friends that live in the vicinity should be sent information like the lead’s name, the vacancy you’re showing, and the time. You can do this through text message or through a team messaging app like SLACK. While this buddy system isn’t perfect, it helps the people you trust figure out if something went wrong at the showing.
Although you certainly know how to think on your feet when it comes to rental questions with your applicants, it’s important to keep your personal safety in mind as well. No amount of safety preparedness is wasteful. While you’ll hopefully never be in a dangerous situation with a lead, taking the time to be aware of how you present yourself and how much personal information you’re giving away is a good way to ward off potential dangerous situations. Carrying a safety device and taking self-defense classes reinforce that preventative training by giving you the power to do something if the need arises. It’s better to be prepared than not at all.
What safety policies do you practice in and out of the office? How do you ensure you are safe during a showing? Let us know in the comments section below and be sure to subscribe.