Spring is in full bloom and like the flowers now blossoming, open houses are springing up in cities and towns across the country, putting real estate agents on the threshold of their busiest time of the year.
As agents work long hours showing homes to potential clients, their safety and security should always remain a top priority.
Safety once again has come to the forefront after a South Bend, Ind., real estate agent was beaten and raped inside a vacant home, according to Realtor.com.
The agent was taking interior photographs of a listing around 12:45 p.m. April 20 when a masked man came into the house and attacked her, according to police and media reports.
Julie Alert, CEO of the Elkhart County Board of Realtors, which covers South Bend, told Realtor.com that when the victim saw her assailant, she went into the basement, which was a poor choice.
In the wake of the assault, the Elkhart County Board of Realtors is setting up a special task force that will feature members of the leadership team and community volunteers. The goal of the group is to raise awareness about safety measures for real estate practitioners.
The National Association of Realtors takes safety seriously and offers plenty of tools for safety and training.
Safety should always be a top priority and one step is to create a company policy that requires all new and potential clients to show identification before they are shown a property.
Agents can download NAR’s agent information, itinerary and prospect ID forms and adapt them for use in their offices.
Another step is to create a customized Office Safety Action Plan to meet the needs of your office. It can be reviewed with agents and staff on a regular basis. This should feature a checklist of basic safety procedures that every agent should follow. It also can include a standard practice for meeting with clients and others off-site. Too many agents are eager to accommodate any potential client. This can prove to be problematic.
Open houses should be secured and a sign-in sheet can be a good starting point in case something happens.
Agents also can attend self-defense and weapons training courses.
For safety, agents also can attend events in groups. If you have a fellow agent attend open houses and other meetings out of the office, you have an additional set of eyes to increase safety and security.
Avoid distractions, like a cell phone or tablet, and be sure to have an escape plan. Park in a strategic spot so that you cannot be blocked in.
Headlines should serve as a wakeup call to all real estate agents. Never let your guard down and always keep your safety a top priority.