As much as we hope our clients are well informed on the best practices when it comes to real estate agent safety, we still want to help educate.
Being a real estate agent comes with great rewards both professionally, personally within your community, and monetarily. Along with these rewards, agents face real threats to their safety. 5% of realtors have been the victim of a crime with 80% of agents knowing their attacker. This has been largely based on three categories of crime including, robbery, assault, and identity theft.
Do you and your brokerage have a procedure to keep you safe?
If you don’t know if your brokerage has a policy in place, ask today!
If they don’t, get involved. Make your concern known. Every brokerage should make safety a priority.
Do you have a personal plan?
Open houses, meeting new clients, conventions, and your web presence, can all be opportunities for crime. You should have a safety plan in place for each setting.
Verify, verify, verify.
When you receive a new lead or if you’re contacted by a potential client, do your research. All it takes is a few minutes of your time to make sure they are who they say they are.
- Require full contact information for all parties involved in the home search first thing. If they are hesitant to provide information, that may be a red flag.
- Look them up on social media and google to verify.
- Require buyers to be pre-approved before meeting.
- Carefully review proof of funds for any obvious red flags like typos on the document, which may be fake. This could give them an opportunity into a seller’s home and is especially important for well advertised, expensive listings.
During open houses:
- Bring a friend with you if possible.
- Remind your brokerage and emergency contact(s) of your location and the time that you will be there. Make sure your contact is available for calls or texts during that timeframe.
- Have Find My Phone turned on and make sure your emergency contact knows how to use the technology.
- Have your phone on your person at all times.
- Have a safe word.
- Force guests to sign in with a table at the entrance.
- Be aware of your surroundings.
- Continually scan the area for unusual behavior.
- Remain in an advantageous area of the home for an easy exit.
- If you must walk through the home, guide guests to enter rooms ahead of you.
- Keep count of how many people are in the home at any given time, so that you are aware if anyone is inside looking around before closing up.
- Trust your gut.
Meeting new clients for the first time:
- Don’t go alone.
- Make sure your brokerage has a copies of their drivers licensees and contact information. Remind them and your emergency contact(s) of your meeting location, route, and timeframe.
- Meet in a familiar, public, well lit place, during daylight hours with known good cell connection.
- Trust your gut.
When you attend a convention:
- Apply the same tactics during open houses.
- Send a copy of your agenda to your emergency contact(s).
- Make sure your contact is available for texts or calls and check in periodically.
- Analyze your surroundings.
- Be aware of exits.
- Make sure your hotel room feels safe, ask hotel staff to move you if you notice any behavior near your room you are not comfortable with.
- Travel lightly. Consider leaving your prized valuables at home.
- Keep your room locked and your “do not disturb” hanger on your door.
- Trust your gut.
Protect your web presence:
- Use a variety of strong passwords and save them in a secure program like LastPass instead of jotting them down on paper.
- When posting photos on personal or public accounts, do not include locations.
- Do not open emails or click on links that seem fishy.
- Use anti-virus software and firewalls.
- Keep your software up to date.
- Monitor your credit scores and bank accounts regularly.
- Use mobile hotspot instead of public Wi-Fi.
We care about your clients too.
In our opinion, the measure of a great agent can be summed up in how educated a client is before, during, and after a transaction. It is the agent’s responsibility to make certain their client is well informed on the safety of their deal.
If you are a new agent or just want to brush up on your wire fraud knowledge, make it a priority to become an expert on the subject.
Hackers can attain information on a transaction and emails of the parties involved, to send fraudulent emails with wiring instructions to their back account, posing as the title company, real estate attorney, or you…their real estate agent. This is a sneaky way criminals can ruin your buyer’s deal and take their savings.
- Inform your clients to ask their escrow officer for specific instructions on wiring money safely. They should understand the importance of this.
- Make your clients aware that you would never ask them to wire money to you.
Resources for you: