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Real estate agent safety is an important topic that is often overlooked in many discussions. While no one plans to be in a dangerous situation, agents should be prepared for any possibility. In the most recent Secrets of Top Selling Agents webinar, “Don’t Be A Statistic,” Jay Thompson shares some of his best safety tips to help agents be more aware and create a safety plan.

Entering the real estate industry in 2004, Thompson started out in the Phoenix, Arizona, market. He worked three years as an agent before transitioning to open his own independent brokerage. In 2012, Thompson switched roles and began working for Zillow as their directory of Industry Outreach, a position he held for seven years until his retirement. While Thompson jokes that he is “retired,” he currently owns his own consulting business and shares his knowledge of real estate with weekly news articles. He prides himself for his role on the Beverly Carter Foundation’s board of directors, whose purpose is to raise awareness about “lone worker” safety.

Be Aware

At the beginning of his webinar, Thompson shares that real estate agents are often called “lone workers” because they spend many of their working hours alone. Agents are often put in vulnerable situations, as they’re showing homes to and hosting open houses for strangers. Thompsons mentions that they are most vulnerable when they are showing homes, as they’re alone with a stranger at a property. While women in the real estate industry are targeted more often, many men are victims as well.

Thompson stresses that, while most agents will not have an issue with their safety being compromised, it’s better to be knowledgeable and prepared. He suggests that it may be useful to think about potential situations and rehearse a script of what you would say if ever faced with an off-putting client. Thompson likens this to agents preparing an objection script and says a similar idea could be applied. The reaction could come more naturally if you’ve prepared as the muscle memory, both physical and mental, would be there.

Trust Your Gut

Overall, Thompson says that “awareness is the key” when preventing these types of situations. By understanding when and how these threats take place, agents can be more prepared and hopefully avoid these safety risks. One of Thompson’s main points is, “if something doesn’t feel right, there’s a very good chance that it’s not right.” He also tells listeners to “trust your gut,” because human instinct is usually right. He assures listeners that, if they act on an instinct and they’re wrong, the outcome is far better than if they didn’t act and they were right. “It’s far better to err on the side of safety and awareness than it is to fall victim to someone,” Thompson comments.

Proactive Versus Reactive

It’s important to be proactive rather than reactive. When you’re reactive, you’re already in that situation to begin with and need to find a way out. Thompson says it’s better to pay attention to the warning signs to avoid the situation altogether.

When you’re at an open house, it’s important to practice situational awareness. Situational awareness means being aware of the situation that you’re in. Thompson gives an example of this by describing a training exercise in which a person enters a room for 15 seconds and is then asked to give details about the room. At an open house, for example, be aware of all the entrances, find out whether the neighbors will be home, locate the closest police station.

Beware of Scammers

While physical safety is a top concern, Thompson mentions agents should also consider their financial safety, especially for crimes like wire fraud. He uses the example of a scammer sending an email from what appears to be a title company asking buyers to send their banking information to complete their transaction. Agents should be screening their messages and keep in mind that almost every institution will never ask for secure information through text or email.

Safety Solutions

Thompson offers a few different options for reactionary safety measures. However, he stresses that these options are still not foolproof and are not preventative measures. He says that they’re better than nothing, but they aren’t the best.

– Forewarn is a preventative app, which offers an easy way to do a background check on a potential client. While Thompson encourages agents to set up an initial public meeting for a new client, he says that this app will use a client’s phone number to check public databases to see whether the person has a criminal history.

– Real Safe Agent
is another preventative app, but this one is community-based. While it offers some basic background checks, its main feature is you can use it to send a message to agents near your location, asking someone close to check in and pretend they’re previewing the listing. It also lets agents rank local clients and give information about their exchange history.

– Invisiwear
is a wearable that comes in the form of jewelry. If an agent feels like they’re in danger, they can squeeze the pendant and it will alert 911 that they need help.

– Wearsafe
is another wearable and comes as a FOB that can be clipped onto a purse, belt, pocket, etc. It can also alert the police or a contact if a dangerous situation arises.

– Thompson mentions that there are many weapons options, including handguns, pepper spray, self-defense classes, etc. A concealed weapon is a potential safety solution, but agents must practice with it and be prepared to use it.

Thompson says that “you better train a lot and you better train frequently.” However, he also reminds listeners that an assailant can take a weapon away and use it against you. He states that it’s a tool, but it’s not a guarantee of safety.

Overall, agents should review safety protocols, trainings and checklists to help prepare and become more aware of their safety. To learn more of Thompson’s safety tips, you can join the Secrets of Top Selling Agents Facebook Group here. For more free real estate education, including best practices, visit the Secrets of Top Selling Agents website.

Joe Sesso is director of Sales and national speaker for Homes.com. For more information, please visit marketing.homes.com.

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