6 Tips for the Safe Realtor

by : Kevin Bilberry

In the haste to make a sale, many realtors have forgotten that their safety is more important than any amount of commission. Realtors have been robbed, beaten, raped and murdered while showing homes. The isolated nature of an empty house makes it easy for people to be assaulted without the neighbors knowing. Here are a few tips to make your safety a priority while still closing sales.

1. Take a self-defense course

Good self defense courses don't generally teach you fancy moves to make someone wish they'd never touched you. The aim is to teach you to be more aware of your surroundings and more aware of your body and what it can do to protect you. Attitude is a big component of self-defense. Also, the course will teach you a few good strategies - holds, blocks and kicks that will get you free from someone's grip and RUN. Don't try to be a hero, just get away and out of the house.

2. Don't take anything at face value

Murderers and rapists are most often not slavering creatures hiding behind bushes and in scuzzy alleyways. They can be well-dressed, have a wife, have a husband, have kids, prefer their tea with lemon. In short, they're just as human as the non-rapist and can't be distinguished by looks alone. Don't trust someone just because they dress in an Armani suit. Do background checks and note their I.D. numbers, license plate numbers and other identifying characteristics.

3. Let someone know

Actually, let several someones know. Where you are going, who you're going with and how long you plan to be. Leave information with your office, friends and family. Let the client know that other people know where you've gone and who with.

4. Take someone with you

Would you rather deal with the awkwardness of having someone there who is obviously there for safety or end up being taken advantage of in the worst possible way? Would you rather risk being alone with someone you don't know in an isolated setting or delay a prospective sale long enough to get someone to go with you? If it makes you feel better, you can have them pretend that they're a junior realtor coming along for experience or whatever - just bring someone with you.

5. Choose defensive instruments carefully

Pepper spray only works if it's aimed in the right direction and has a directed stream. Some jurisdictions place limits on pepper spray possession and usage - be aware of your rights and responsibilities. A travel bottle of hairspray may also produce unpleasant sensations in the eyes of an attacker and it's legal just about everywhere.

On guns: Many law enforcement personnel recommend against carrying a gun because of the liability and in some places, it's illegal (Canada). If you decide to go this route, don't just go out and get a gun; learn how to use, clean, carry, and store it safely. Also, learn the laws of your area concerning gun usage for self defense. If you don't know how to handle a loaded weapon and when to use it, then you have no business carrying it around with you.

6. Trust your gut

It's been said a million times before, but it's still true. If something gives you a bad feeling, GET OUT. No sale is worth your life or your physical well being. Read Gavin de Becker's "Gift of Fear" for more information on trusting your instincts. Sometimes it may play you false, but most people have a decently developed sense of what is right and what isn't, even if their conscious mind isn't aware of that fact.