I have been meaning to post on this for a while. As unpalatable as it is to say, assaults and even murders of agents who unwittingly meet the wrong person in the wrong place do occur. A female agent alone at an open house I ran into recently seemed genuinely glad to see me because a person who had left before I arrived unnerved her. As a broker-owner, I take these concerns seriously. Security knows no gender, but here are a few things that should be done to watch your back.
- Never hold an open house alone, especially if it is off the beaten path. If you are in an apartment or row home area with lots of people nearby, that is one thing. But if literally no one can “hear you scream” you are vulnerable.
- Let others in your office, family or team know where you’ll be, especially when you are meeting someone for the first time. All my appointments are recorded in my outlook.
- Document ahead of time when, where and with whom you are meeting someone, especially if it is a first contact. If I were to go on a listing appointment at an axe murderer’s house, my wife need only check my outlook calender for the name, number and address of the prospect. If I am late, she calls my cell phone to check on me.
- Carry pepper spray or mace. No kidding. They can be on your keychain. Some agents carry a whistle.
- Never leave without that cell phone. If you are at an open house and someone is behaving erratically, call the cops or an associate. Err on the side of caution.
- Casually mention that others know where you are and with whom you are meeting. If you are showing a vacant home, for instance, work it into the conversation. The best thing is to not be alone.
- Never make a blind appointment. Know who you are meeting with and get their information. If someone different shows up, reserve the right to terminate the meeting.
- Insist that people sign in at an open house. We yield too often about this, presumably because we don’t wish to offend. Screw that. Our sign in sheets have a contact opt out box if people just don’t want to be called afterward. But we have too much exposure to liability to not document who is walking through a client’s private home. One broker I know has two agents at all opens, and will not allow people to walk through without holding their driver license. Hey, it is New York. But if you want to enter one of my opens, signing in isn’t optional.
We don’t sit at mahogony desks all day for our work. We are in the field, on the road, and meeting strangers all the time. While the odds of something terrible happening are remote, prevention and caution should give us that ever important peace of mind.