silhouette of a woman with a top view of city

Aren’t you tired of hearing the same old realtor safety tips and security advice from unqualified sources and random websites? As a professional safety expert, I’ve been teaching safety best practices to agents for more than 26 years. I started the country’s only real estate agent safety designation program.

Let me demonstrate how expert-led safety training, tools, and tactics gained through decades of experience can potentially save your life.

1. Opt for Jewelry With Built-in Safety Features

Smartwatch

We advise you to save your expensive, fancy jewelry for special occasions only. However, some jewelry can be a lifesaver. Wearable technology is a growing product category with items that are ideal for real estate professionals.

What the experts say:

According to Dave Rebro, tech safety advisor at DRCS Solutions and bestselling author, wearable tech like a smartwatch has far more practical safety uses than a traditional watch or even your smartphone.

Dave Rebro of DRCS Solutions“Besides the importance of your smartphone and related apps, consider wearable technologies as a critical tool in your ‘work safely’ toolbox. Why? Your phone is not always attached to you. There may be situations when your phone is out of reach or compromised. Safety features built into wearable technologies might be your last line of defense.”

— Dave Rebro, Tech Safety Advisor, DRCS Solutions

Good options for wearable technologies that offer emergency safety features include smartwatches like those made by Apple, Android, Fitbit, and Samsung. These all have cellular and data connection capabilities.

Samsung smartwatches allow you to send SOS messages to your emergency contacts with your GPS location. You can also share medical contact information in case of an emergency. Apple watches allow you to call emergency services, reach first responders or your emergency contacts, and even set up medical information to share with first responders when they arrive.

[Related Article: 9 Top Real Estate Safety Apps You Need to Know About]

2. Prevent or Stop Harassing Phone Calls & Texts

Message icon

According to recent headlines, real estate agents across the country are being targeted by harassing phone calls and threatening text messages. You can choose from several available tools to help you fight back.

What the experts say:

Technology should be in every agent’s toolkit. RoboKiller, for example, is an app designed to counteract threatening and harassing calls and texts by blocking spam calls and responding to spoofed calls using a bot. Real Safe Agent is a comprehensive safety app that offers background checks, wire fraud protection, and other services.

Dave Rebro of DRCS Solutions“iPhone users can now report iMessages that look like spam or junk from the Messages app. If you get an iMessage from someone who is not saved in your contacts, you’ll see a ‘Report Junk’ link under the message.

“If you find yourself receiving a lot of spam text messages, you can forward the message to the number 7726 (which spells SPAM). It won’t stop the number from texting you right away, but it will allow your carrier to look into where it came from and put an end to it.”

— Dave Rebro, Tech Safety Advisor, DRCS Solutions

3. Beware! Criminals May Be Targeting You

hit a bullseye in dart

Perpetrators often target a specific agent. You might think that these crimes are about opportunity since your job is so public and often involves meeting with strangers. Surprisingly, most crimes against agents are rarely spontaneous.

In a Fort Lauderdale neighborhood in February 2021, a real estate agent and property manager was visiting tenants to get signatures. When the agent left the house, he was kidnapped at gunpoint in the front yard, then forced to make two ATM withdrawals before he was shot and killed in his car.

You need to be alert and aware in all neighborhoods when arriving and leaving properties. This is typically when your guard is down and you are most vulnerable. Watch for suspicious cars, loiterers, or anyone who may be watching you.

What the experts say:

Goldstein stresses that the majority of crimes committed in our industry are predatory in nature. A would-be perpetrator has to “shop” for a victim. While there may be additional planning steps, they typically choose a target, make a plan to meet, isolate their victim, and then execute their plan.

Of all the realtor safety tips I’ve given, prevention is the most powerful. You can avoid being targeted by closely following all client screening and showing safety protocols—without fail and in every interaction. Goldstein reminds us that there are three parts to every crime: means, motive, and opportunity. Take away the means and opportunity!

4. Stick to (Very) Professional Marketing Headshots

Professional Marketing Headshots

You’ll often hear the realtor safety tip that advises you not to use glamor shots as your online profile picture because criminals may use your profile picture to target you.

While it’s not advisable to promote your business by leading with sex appeal, it may surprise you to learn that it’s not only suggestive photos that get the attention of criminals. They may be looking for a specific type, whether young or old, a certain hair or eye color, and so on.

What the experts say:

Lee Barry Goldstein, CEO of Real Safe Agent, based in Austin, Texas, has studied criminals and criminal activity. He claims that the picture on the right could get the attention of a predator. He says the real estate agent’s online promotional images should be taken from the shoulders up, wearing professional attire and neutral make-up.

Lee Barry Goldstein CEO of Real Safe Agent“The tilted head and smile send a message to a would-be perpetrator that there is a personal connection and vulnerability. It is best to take straightforward photos with a professional smile, like the one on the left. That smile conveys confidence, power, and knowledge.”

— Lee Barry Goldstein, CEO, Real Safe Agent

5. Be Aware of Potential Danger—Day or Night

front porch

Many crimes perpetrated against real estate agents occur in broad daylight and in upscale neighborhoods during showings and open houses. It’s easy to convince yourself that you are safe in certain neighborhoods and while the sun is shining. If you’ve committed to working during the daytime but that doesn’t work for your clients, you’ll often need to adapt.

What the experts say:

Day or night, you need to remain alert at all times—regardless of the neighborhood in which you’re working and the time of day you’re conducting your business. To criminals with a car, all neighborhoods are fair game. Your guard may be down in what you consider a safe neighborhood, but it’s important to remember that the more expensive homes often contain plenty of valuable items worth stealing. Agents who work in upscale areas can be perceived to be wealthy, accessible targets.

6. Ignore Your Gut Instincts at Your Own Peril

happy group of women

Every animal in nature is born with a built-in survival warning mechanism that is rarely wrong. Human beings are the only ones who choose to ignore these warnings. Gut feeling, intuition, instinct, spidey-sense, sixth sense, fight or flight—whatever you decide to call it, it’s that little voice in your head that can keep you from being victimized. But you have to heed the warning.

What the experts say:

The number one safety and security tool that all animals possess can keep us from being victimized. The key is to listen to that voice, respect it, and obey it. Second-guessing the voice can get you in trouble. Get out of the situation by making up an excuse. You can always apologize or explain later if your spidey-sense turns out to be wrong.

Lee Barry Goldstein CEO of Real Safe Agent“Safety begins and ends with human behavior because it’s a human problem. Technology can facilitate a safe human behavior such as helping an agent find someone to accompany them on an appointment, but technology in and of itself does not keep agents safe.”

— Lee Barry Goldstein, CEO, Real Safe Agent

7. Stand Out With Clients by Leading With Safety

stay safe words in blocks with letters

Show the world you’re not an easy target by marketing with the message that safety is top of mind for you. Keep your name front and center with consumers while expressing that safety—both yours and that of your clients—is one of your top priorities.

Leading with safety and incorporating it into your branding and messaging expands your reputation as an agent who looks out for your clients and keeps you top-of-mind. Rather than contacting your clients only when asking for business, show them that you are willing to help them stay safe and protect their home, family, and possessions. You’ll build loyalty and they’ll appreciate your concern.

What the experts say:

Experts like myself often advocate for these proactive realtor safety tips. Stay in touch with clients by regularly sharing safety and security information that has value for them. Research safety and security-related topics and regularly send tips and info to your past, current, and prospective clients.

A Consumer Safety and Security News, Tips, and Resources subscription service costs just $14.95 a month (billed annually at $149). You’ll receive relevant safety articles and videos to share with your buyers, sellers, prospective clients, and FSBOs each month. You’ll also receive accompanying talking points to provide content for your video messages.

This subscription service gives safety and security content that you can use as client touchpoints each month. No one complains about receiving safety tips! Clients and consumers will remember the agent who looked out for them.

8. Be Transparent About Showings & Appointments

two women having a meeting

Some people believe that it’s easier to ask for forgiveness than permission, but in recent Atlanta news, a real estate agent learned the hard way about being forthcoming from the outset. The agent staged a photoshoot at another real estate agent’s listed property for the purpose of creating marketing materials. She arrived with her photography and staging crew in tow.

When the homeowner saw a video feed from her doorbell security, she was surprised to find a group of six to eight strangers walking into her house with bags. Thinking that her home was being burglarized, she sent her husband to the house to confront the burglars.

Her fire chief spouse ended up in a confrontation during which he allegedly broke the photographer’s camera and pulled his gun on the would-be burglars. The fire chief was subsequently arrested, and the agent is blaming the dispute on racial discrimination.

What the experts say:

Based on the facts as we know them from news reports of this case, the agent may not have alerted the listing agent about her visit’s real, intended purpose. By seeking permission in advance, she could have prevented this entire incident, which will now require a lengthy resolution process.

9. Screen & Vet Your Clients Using Multiple Tools

Doing research using a mobile phone

Background checks should be multi-tiered and include information from multiple sources. Both sellers and prospective buyers need to be verified and vetted using Google and other online search engines, as well as safety apps such as Real Safe Agent and Forewarn. Other great information resources include LexisNexis and your local county judicial website.

Goldstein of Real Safe Agent advises against having false confidence and letting your guard down based on screening apps alone.

Lee Barry Goldstein CEO of Real Safe Agent“Popular criminal background app services are not always accurate when they deliver reports that agents trust and rely on to keep them safe. If a service reports only convictions, it will miss the crimes with no convictions, as well as the criminal who got away with crimes many times before.” ​

— Lee Barry Goldstein, CEO, Real Safe Agent

If there are errors in spelling a person’s name or other discrepancies, any recorded criminal history may not reveal itself.​ The RealSafeAgent app lets you share notes about any client who may have made you feel uncomfortable, thereby alerting others in the industry about any potential issues with a client. Goldstein notes that predators typically meet with multiple real estate pros before targeting their victims.

[Related Article: 5 Free Open House Sign-in Sheets to Try This Weekend + PDF Template]

10. When in Doubt, Call the Police

woman using her mobile phone

Agents often hesitate to call the police when they have been victimized, regardless of the type of crime. As a professional safety trainer, I strongly advocate for reporting all criminal activity. Failing to do so has an impact across our industry. Reporting helps the police to discern patterns and warn other agents of potential dangers.

What the experts say:

Anthony Burnside is a national security specialist and investigator with Ronin Group Consulting and a former police officer. He says that the police can handle criminal disputes, but not civil issues. It’s always better to call the police if you feel that you are in danger, Burnside advises. The police will determine if they can assist you. He also notes that the police typically arrive on the scene after a crime has been committed.

He advocates for a trained protective detail if the situation warrants it, and advises those in the field to engage security when necessary.

“We, as protectors, prevent the attack or crime from taking place. Prevention is always better.”

— Anthony Burnside, National Security Specialist & Investigator, Ronin Group Consulting

His company offers executive protection in any situation in which the agent feels uneasy about a particular client or location they think may be dangerous. The security operative can do the necessary advance work and put protection protocols in place to ensure the safety of the real estate agent. Costs depend upon the level of risk and the operative’s experience.

Which Realtor Safety Tips Would You Like to Share?

What is your #1 real estate agent safety tip? Please share the safety practice that you do without fail to keep yourself and your clients safe.

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