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13 Safety Tips Every Real Estate Agent Should Know

Erin Gobler5 minute-read
March 02, 2022

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As a real estate agent, your safety is of the utmost importance. Unfortunately, agents can – and have – found themselves in unsafe situations due to the nature of their jobs. The good news is that there are steps you can take to keep you, your clients and colleagues safe. Keep reading to learn more about the dangers of being a real estate agent and the importance of having a safety plan.

Is Being A Real Estate Agent A Dangerous Job?

Being a real estate agent isn’t an inherently dangerous job. Unfortunately, just like any public-facing job, agents may find themselves in unsafe situations.

The National Association of REALTORS® (NAR) 2020 Member Safety Report found that about 5% of agents have been the victim of a crime while working as a real estate professional, up from 4% the previous year. Meanwhile, nearly one-third reported fearing for their personal safety at some point, most often during open houses and showings.

The job of a real estate agent occasionally leaves you in precarious situations. It’s not uncommon to find yourself alone with a client – or even a complete stranger – during an open house or showing. Because of that, it’s critical to be prepared.

Why Is It Important To Have A Safety Plan?

It’s a sad truth that real estate agents can find themselves in potentially dangerous situations. But there are steps you can take as an agent to protect yourself and feel more comfortable doing your job.

According to the 2020 NAR report we referenced previously, 72% of real estate agents have personal safety protocols in place for meeting with clients. Female agents are more likely to have these protocols in place. Additionally, more than one-third of clients have gone through a self-defense class and many of those who had said it made them feel more prepared.

As an agent, it’s important to take steps to protect your personal safety in your line of work. While unsafe situations may be rare, you never know when they’ll happen. You can learn more below about steps to take to protect yourself.

How To Stay Safe As A Real Estate Professional

As we mentioned, there are steps you can take to protect yourself in your line of work as a real estate agent. Below are 13 safety tips to implement in your personal safety plan.

1. Avoid Using ‘Vacant’ In Listings

The word “vacant” in a real estate listing can attract criminals. Predators are more likely to break into these homes looking for things to steal. And if you’re there alone when a criminal shows up, you could find your personal safety at risk.

2. Be Alert And Know Your Surroundings

As a real estate agent, it’s critical to always be aware of your surroundings. Learn the floor plans of the homes you’re showing. And when you arrive somewhere, always take a few seconds to become familiar with your surroundings. Know where the exits are and where you can go if you need help. Additionally, before walking into an empty home for the first time, take a second to see if anything looks suspicious.

3. Meet In Public Spaces

It’s the nature of the job of a real estate agent to meet regularly with people you don’t know. For the first meeting with each new client, plan to meet in a public space. A coffee shop or similar location will give you the opportunity to get to know them a bit, so when you’re alone in a home together, you feel a bit safer.

4. Take Self Defense Classes

As we mentioned earlier, more than one-third of real estate agents have taken a self-defense class. These courses can teach you exactly what to do if you’re attached or feel unsafe on the job. You may also learn to see a dangerous situation coming more easily.

5. Share Your Location

When you have to be alone, whether it be for an initial meeting with a client, a house showing, or an open house, always share your location with someone. Ideally, a co-worker should always know where you are and who you’re with. If you don’t check in within the expected time frame, they can take action. Smartphones also make it easy to share your location with someone with the click of a button.

6. Carry Tools For Your Personal Safety

There are several personal safety devices you can carry with you to use in an unsafe situation. First, many real estate agents carry pepper spray with them to use if a client is aggressive or attacks. There are also personal safety devices that send off a piercing noise if you push the button or pull a string. These noisemakers are likely to deter a criminal.

7. Leave Your Valuables Behind

Carrying expensive valuables can make you an easy target for theft, especially when you’re showing a home alone. Consider leaving valuables, including expensive jewelry, watches, and purses at home or locked in your trunk when you’re showing a home to a client or hosting an open house.

8. Avoid Showing Homes At Night

One important safety measure to adopt is to stick to showing homes in the daylight hours. While evenings are sometimes more convenient for clients, the dark can create additional risks and make you more vulnerable.

9. Invite Your Client to Walk In Front Of You

When you’re showing a home to a client, always invite the client to walk in front of you, especially when entering an enclosed space. Doing so allows you to always see your client and avoid a situation where they could surprise you.

10. Vet Potential Clients

These days, it’s easier than ever to vet potential clients thanks to social media. When you sign a new client, consider doing an internet and social media search of them. You can also require identification from new clients so you can ensure they are who they say they are.

11. Keep Things Professional

When you have a good rapport with a new client, you might feel comfortable sharing personal details about your life, or even becoming friends with them on social media. But it’s important to keep things professional and keep the added layer of privacy between you and clients. You never know what someone’s intentions are.

12. Use Technology Safety Features

There are personal safety apps available on both Apple and Android phones that can help real estate agents feel safer. Using one of these apps, you can enlist help with the push of a button, including calling emergency services, sharing your location with an emergency contact, or sending a fake call to your phone to give you an easy out of an uncomfortable situation.

13. Trust Your Instincts

As a real estate agent, you might find yourself in situations or around clients who make you feel uncomfortable. If this type of situation arises, trust your gut and remove yourself from the situation. It’s OK to fire a client if they’ve made you feel uncomfortable or ask a colleague to pair up at an open house when something doesn’t feel right.

The Bottom Line: Be Intentional About Your Safety

Being a real estate agent normally a dangerous professional, but can unfortunately lead to some unsafe situations. You often find yourself along with clients, and so it’s important to implement a personal safety plan. You can also read more real estate agent tips in the Rocket ProSM Insights Learning Center.

Erin Gobler

Erin Gobler is a freelance personal finance expert and writer who has been publishing content online for nearly a decade. She specializes in financial topics like mortgages, investing, and credit cards. Erin's work has appeared in publications like Fox Business, NextAdvisor, Credit Karma, and more.