A lone worker is an employee who performs any work activity apart from co-workers or direct supervision, often traveling to different locations. Real estate agents spend most of their days away from the office, showing potential clients properties for sale or spaces for lease and conducting open houses. When real estate agents are on the road, they need a way to stay safe.
A lone worker in real estate needs a safety device in case of an emergency. If you are an employer at a real estate firm, you can install an app on your agents’ devices to track them and give them a safe place to report any incidents. Here are some real estate agent safety tips for your lone workers.
The Importance of Real Estate Agent Safety
Real estate agents run the risk of theft, violence, medical emergencies and road accidents every time they travel by themselves. Visiting properties behind closed doors leaves real estate agents vulnerable to an attack from their client. While they can take safety precautions, they need to make sure they are as safe as possible.
Real estate agents became the first to use “lone worker” to describe their jobs in the mid-1980s when Suzy Lamplugh went missing after reporting to visit a potential client. In 1993, when no one found her body, she was declared dead. Because of this incident and several others like it throughout the years, we have to take more safety precautions to protect lone workers on the job.
The 2019 REALTOR® Member Safety Report includes some concerning statistics about real estate agent security:
- 33% of REALTORS® had an experience that made them fear for their personal safety.
- 5% of REALTORS® report being the victim of a crime on the job.
- 44% of members — 35% of men and 49% of women — carry self-defense weapons such as pepper spray, firearms and knives.
If your real estate agent team members feel unsafe while performing their daily duties, you need to provide a way for them to go to work without fearing for their safety. Since real estate agents are alone most of the day, they need an accountability system to help protect them and give them peace of mind as they travel. Anything can happen, so they should be prepared for anything.
Normally, employers have to follow guidelines from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to keep their employees safe at the workplace. When workers are not at their job location, they need proper guidelines to maintain their safety both inside and outside of the office.
General Real Estate Agent Safety Tips
To provide security for real estate agents, you should conduct safety training meetings, teaching them these real estate agent safety tips.
1. Meet New Clients in a Public Setting
Before showing a property to a new client, make sure you meet them in a public setting first. You can take them out to a coffee shop or have them come to your office. If you bring them to the office, introduce them to as many people as possible. Criminals want to be inconspicuous, so presenting them to your whole real estate team may deter them from making an attack.
While collecting your client’s personal information, create an electronic file with their information and — if possible — a picture of the client. If they ever become a threat, an electronic file with their information could help identify them if you need to press charges or open an investigation.
2. Use Code Words in Case of Danger
In real estate, if an agent is in danger, they will commonly use the phrase “the red file.” In a situation where they feel threatened, they might call the office and ask someone to bring them the red file because they forgot it. Use that code, or one like it, to give your agents another way to inform you of any emergency.
Establish a code word or phrase for your employees to use. You can use “the red file,” or you can create one that’s unique to your real estate firm. Make sure your whole team knows the code and what to do if an agent uses it.
3. Be Smart About Your Open Houses and Showings
Your real estate agents should only conduct open houses and private showings at safe locations. When a real estate agent conducts an open house, they post about it online, so anyone has access to the location and time. While you need to post about it to get the word out, keep in mind that you are now vulnerable to anyone walking into your open house.
When you’re meeting with clients, only make appointments during daylight. If the building has blinds or shades over the windows, keep them open. Make sure you have cell phone service at all times. If you’re going to a location that makes you uncomfortable, try to bring a colleague with you.
4. Carry an Emergency Kit With You
In case of emergency, you should have the following items in your car:
- A change of clothes
- A first aid kit
- Water and snacks
- A tool kit
- A pair of work gloves
- Measuring tape
- Disposable shoe covers
- A rain jacket
- Rubber boots
- Jumper cables for your car
- Basic cleaning supplies
If you have a real estate agent team, consider supplying them with some of these items. They should have items that will prepare them for whatever location they have on their schedule for the day.
5. Dress Appropriately
You should wear clothes that will keep you comfortable as you walk outside and throughout the property. Wear comfortable shoes for walking and wear a jacket in the winter. If you have car trouble, you also need warm clothes in the winter while you wait for someone to rescue you.
For safety reasons, you should also avoid wearing loose clothing — like scarves or flowing dresses — that could get stuck or that a violent attacker could grab. You should also keep your valuable jewelry at home. For your professional pictures, avoid wearing expensive jewelry. Criminals can book private showings with you just to try to steal your jewelry.
6. Be Professional in What You Share
You want your clients to like you, but they shouldn’t be your friends. Keep conversations with them about your professional life. If you disclose that your son has a baseball game tonight at the park, you have just told a potential attacker your location.
Don’t share any personal information with any clients. Always connect them to your real estate agent firm instead of your personal home for information. You can share your personal cell phone number, since most real estate agents do that, but anything beyond that could be a risk to you and your family’s personal safety.
7. Have Accountability in the Office
Your real estate office should know your appointments for the day. Whether you have a personal assistant, a supervisor or an administrative staff, tell your team where you’ll be and the name of your clients. It may even help to write the information on a board so everyone can see it, in case you need to call about “the red file.”
If you have a bad feeling about one of your clients, warn your colleagues that you may be going into a harmful situation. Your colleagues may want to accompany you or, at the very least, be on call in case of an emergency. If your colleagues don’t hear from you in a certain amount of time, they can send reinforcements.
To easily access any emergency contacts, add them to your “favorites” list to put your emergency contacts at the top of your list. For extra protection, you can also list them as code names so someone looking over your shoulder won’t know you’re uncomfortable.
8. Keep Yourself in a Safe Position
Always make sure you are in a position to leave if you feel unsafe. Park on the street instead of your client’s driveway so that the neighbors on the street can see you. Potential criminals can also lure you into their house and block your car in their driveway.
Walk behind your clients to keep an eye on them. When you’re finished showing a house, check your backseat and around the car, and lock your car doors as soon as you go inside.
Lone Worker Solution for Real Estate Agents
If you have lone workers on your team, you can give them the accountability and protection they need throughout the day. Your employees may be wondering how to keep themselves safe in an emergency. With the right technology, you can answer that question for them with Towne Tracking’s lone worker safety solutions.
While you can invest in portable real estate agent security devices, the easiest option is to employ a device your real estate team members are most likely using anyway — their cell phones. You can install an app on their phones that can track their location and send emergency alerts to you as needed.
Towne Tracking offers Emergency Alert for real estate agents who are often on the road. Emergency Alert protects real estate agents from:
- Environmental risk: Real estate agents are prone to slips, trips and injuries while showing a property, especially if it needs some updating. Any loose wires, cracks in the flooring or uneven walkways could bring harm to a real estate agent showing a property.
- Medical emergencies: If a real estate agent develops sudden extreme fatigue or chest pains, they could have a medical emergency. They need protection from potential injury, even when no one else is around to help them.
- Violence and aggression: Real estate agents are sometimes the victims of aggressive crime, especially during an open house or a private showing. When agents meet alone with their clients, they are more vulnerable to attack. If they’re showing a vacant property, they also might run into irritable squatters.
- Road accidents: While driving from place to place, real estate agents are at risk of road accidents daily. They need someone to call in case they’re stranded on the side of the road.
Before sending your team out with their programmed phones, you should hold a training meeting to make sure everyone understands how to use the app. A meeting will help prevent false alarms or confusion while your team is out of the office. During the meeting, you can demonstrate the features of the app and allow your team to ask questions.
Features of the Emergency Alert App
Emergency Alert, combined with our professional team at Towne, can provide real estate agents with quick, hands-on help in an emergency. The StaySafe app provides several essential features that could help real estate agents overcome a vulnerable situation:
- Timed sessions: Real estate agents are required to check in on the app to start and end their session at a location. During the timed session, their employer has access to their location. If the agent doesn’t check in, Towne receives an alert and assumes the agent is in danger.
- Low battery warnings: The app will only work if the agent’s phone is on. You can receive an alert if the agent has a low battery to remind their employees to charge their phones.
- Panic button: If they are in immediate danger, the agent can press a red button in the app to alert you of their emergency.
- Discreet panic: If the agent is in a situation where they want to hide their panic from whoever else is in the room, or if they don’t have easy access to their phone, the agent can press their power button to send you a discreet panic alert. They can access this button from their purse or pocket.
- Duress PIN: If the agent was forced by a violent attacker to terminate the app, the agent can put in a false alarm code to alert you of the situation.
- Man down: The phone can detect non-motion and will assume that the agent has fallen. The Man Down feature alerts you if the agent has not moved for a prolonged period.
- Audible alerts: The app alerts agents when it’s time to check in on the app to make sure the app doesn’t send you a false alarm.
Your real estate agents can also connect their phones to their Bluetooth devices — such as an earpiece or a smartwatch — and pair their device with different features on the app. For example, to send a panic alert, the user can press and hold the button on their device. Bluetooth devices can give your employees additional assistance, especially if their phone isn’t easily accessible.
Contact Towne Services for More Information About Keeping Your Real Estate Agents Safe
Our team at Towne Services in Souderton, Pennsylvania, seeks to seamlessly integrate technology and people to provide a safe working environment. Our StaySafe app can give your real estate agents peace of mind as they travel and meet new clients. For more than 60 years, we have served the technological needs of employees in Pennsylvania through our Towne Tracking and other programs.
We are here to answer any questions you may have about keeping your real estate agents safe. Contact us by filling out an inquiry form online or calling 215-660-0800.