Most of us like to approach the world from a rose-colored perspective that says we’ll never wind up in danger or in situations that make us uncomfortable. But the reality is that as a real estate agent, you may find yourself in a number of different scenarios that put you in physical danger.
Every time you take a buyer on a home tour, you put yourself in the risky position of being alone with a stranger in an empty house. Whenever you run open houses, you invite the public at large – including all of its unsavory elements – with you into an enclosed space over which you have no control.
Ninety nine times out of one hundred, you’ll be fine. But how would you handle yourself if confronted with a physically violent person or other unsafe scenario? If you don’t yet have a personal protection plan in place, consider the following tips:
Now, before we jump into the different was you can protect yourself while interacting with buyers; I want to make one thing clear. Your focus as an agent should be on self-defense – not fighting.
Keeping yourself safe from a self-defense perspective means doing whatever it takes to stay out of danger. You aren’t out there looking for a fight – you’re simply
When it comes to self-defense, one of the best things you can do to prepare yourself for bad situations is to know your escape routes. If you ever find yourself alone in a home with a seemingly-dangerous buyer, you’ll want to remove yourself to a place where there are more people, security guards, security cameras or other features that make attacking you a bad idea.
As a result, whenever you enter a property, make it a priority to know how you’ll escape in an emergency and where you’ll go. Doing so only takes a second and can keep you safe if the worst occurs.
At the same time, there are certain physical cues you can adopt that telegraph the fact that you’re somebody who shouldn’t be messed with.
For example, take a second to roll your shoulders back and puff out your chest slightly. Standing tall in this manner makes you look and feel stronger. If you’re slouching, you automatically look like a victim, so get in the habit of maintaining an assertive posture whenever you interact with buyers.
From a safety perspective, one of the worst things you can do as a real estate agent is to meet a buyer at a property without letting anybody know where you’ll be. Instead, it’s important that you notify your home office of where you’ll be, whom you’ll be meeting and when you expect to be finished. If possible, arrange to meet buyers at your office and get copies of their drivers’ licenses before going together to tour possible homes.
Another good idea is to develop a “red, yellow, green” code system that you can use to let your home office know that you’re feeling threatened without tipping off your buyer. As an example, if you’re feeling uncomfortable about the buyer you’re on a tour with, feign a reason to give your office a call – saying something like, “Could you get me the square footage on that Randall Street property? It’s in the red folder on my desk.”
In this case, the use of the word “red” could alert your office to what you believe to be an imminent threat, prompting them to call the police for you. The use of the phrase “yellow folder” instead could let them know that you’re feeling uncomfortable, but don’t need immediate action – while the words “green folder” could let your team know that all’s well.
Again, it’s highly unlikely that these threatening scenarios will ever come to pass in your career – but it’s still best to be prepared.
One way to increase your disaster readiness level is to rehearse different mental scenarios. Keep the following prioritized reactions in mind as you imagine how you’d handle yourself in response to different threats:
Just like actors rehearse over and over again before putting on their final plays, taking the time to mentally run through your escape options will make it easier to remember what to do if you’re ever faced with the “fight or flight” response a physical threat brings on.
Unfortunately, these tips won’t do you a bit of good if you don’t put them into place before you’re actually in danger. For example, the time to figure out the code words you’ll use to communicate physical threats to your home office isn’t when you’re on a tour with a prospective buyer who’s making you feel uncomfortable!
Think about your self-defense plan as being similar to the insurance policies you take out to protect your health, your home and your car. While it’s coverage that you hope you’ll never need, you’ll ultimately fare far better if you take the time to prepare for the potentially dangerous situations you could face as a real estate agent.