September is REALTOR® Safety Month and all of us here at First International Title desire that everyone be protected and intentional about their individual safety.
For real estate agents, that is an everyday task as they are continuously advertising their services online, showing properties, making listing appointments, and hosting open houses. Here are a few practical reminders and tips for the real estate agent to stay safe in every situation.
Don’t Do it Alone
When you host open houses, consider bringing at least one other person that you know and trust with you. If another realtor at your firm is unable to come along, your lenders and First International Title partners should be willing to help you as well.
Have all of the open house visitors sign in with at least their name and phone number and check all of the rooms at the end before you lock up to ensure that everyone has left.
Show During the Day
Try to show properties during the daytime. If you have to show in the evening, arrive at the house early and turn on all of the lights and be sure to keep blinds and curtains completely open.
Let People Know Where You Are
Whether it’s your significant other, a coworker, or a friend, let at least one person know where you will be at what time, especially if you’re out past sunset.
You may even consider downloading a GPS tracking app, such as Life360, to allow your spouse or trusted friend see where you are at all times.
Keep Them In Front
When showing houses, keep the potential buyers in front of you and direct them to where they need to go. For example, stay slightly behind them and say, “the kitchen is through this hallway to the right.” This avoids any surprises happening behind your back.
Lock It Up
When showing houses or hosting open houses, lock your car while you’re inside. Keep minimal amounts of your valuable belongings on you, aside from your cell phone. Hide your wallet or purse in your trunk or under a seat and leave it in the car the entire time.
Check Your Surroundings
Always be aware of what’s happening around you. Before you enter a house, take 10-15 seconds to scope the area. Make sure there are no suspicious cars sitting around, someone watching you, or a person hiding. Also, have knowledge of where the closest exits, or “escape routes,” are so that you’re able to leave quickly if needed. Finally, ensure that your cell phone has enough battery life and service if you need to make a quick call.
Don’t Be Afraid to Ask
As you’re showing properties or going to an open house, ask the neighbors to keep an eye out around the house for anything that looks out of place. Let them know why you’re there and that you just want to keep everyone safe and out of harm’s way.
Protect Your Emails and Personal Information
Real Estate is one of the largest targets when it comes to online hacking and phishing. Do not accept wiring instructions from someone other than your title company and always call to confirm the instructions before sending the funds.
If you are questioning the legitimacy of an email, go with your gut. Call the supposed sender of the email and ask if they actually sent it. If you have no idea who the sender is, move that email to spam and do not click on any links asking for or to “update” your personal information. If you are unsure about a link in an email, hover the curser of your mouse over the link and it will show what the hyperlink actually is. If it shows something other than what the email is saying, don’t click it.
For more information about email fraud and what First International Title is doing to keep your information safe, contact your local office today!
The National Association of REALTORS® also offers many tools and safety resources for agents and they can be found at https://www.nar.realtor/safety.
Questions? Comments? Reach out to your First International Title rep!