By now, we've all heard the tragic news about Arkansas real estate professional Beverly Carter. It is safe to say that the industry as a whole is shaken by this brazen, horrific event and all of us at RealSupport, Inc. extend our deepest apologies and condolences to Ms. Carter's family, friends and colleagues. In lieu of our usual blog posting, I wanted to take the time to share some safety tips for all of our friends in the real estate industry. Our Real Estate Virtual Assistant team believes safety to be paramount in our industry, particularly for those that often find themselves alone with strangers or in someone's home. Here are just a handful of tips to take into consideration as a real estate professional:
-Be transparent. Let family, friends and colleagues know your whereabouts when you're showing properties, meeting prospects and new clients. When you're on the go, "check in" to the various stops along your route using Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare, Instagram or virtually any major social media platform that has location capabilities. If you're running to showings and properties, be sure to let at least a few people know what time and exactly where.
-Use GPS apps. Apps like Life360, Find My Friends and Trick or Tracker are great tools for keeping tabs on important people in your life. These apps need to be downloaded on both peoples' cell phones and permissions must be given before you can track each other. Trick or Tracker, in particular, tracks the phone using geolocation data and sends the person's location every 15 minutes. Life360 allows you to see a map layout that pinpoints where the people that you're tracking are located in realtime. You can shut off the apps at any time, so they can be conveniently used for safety purposes.
-Qualify new clients. If a prospect contacts you via phone or e-mail, request that they fill out a basic new client form prior to confirming a showing with them. That way, your office has their name, address, telephone number and other contact information on file and can also record what properties you've agreed to show them, and when. Some may even ask for a copy of a photo I.D. to be sent along with the new client form before any meetings take place.
-Take precautions. In most places, carrying mace or pepper spray is recommended. Additionally, don't be afraid to request that a colleague or assistant come with you to show a property to a new client - Particularly if it's out of the way or at an odd hour. There is always strength in numbers and you can always tell the client that you're training a new professional by having them shadow you.
There are many ways to stay safe while maintaining close relationships with clients and building new ones. Always be aware of your surroundings and don't brush off any "feeling" that you may get with a stranger. As always, our Real Estate Virtual Assistant team wishes real estate professionals everywhere safety and security, and are always here for any questions or assistance.