Ask any REALTOR® what their favourite part of the job is, and it’s likely that their answer will be some form of “working with other people.” Of course, interactions with others – whether in person or online – can always come with certain risks. In a recent episode of the Ready to Real Estate podcast , TRREB’s Past President Lisa Patel met with fellow Women in Real Estate Task Force Members Jasmine Lee, Rayissa Palmer, and Ricky Rathore to share their best advice on how to stay safe at work while doing what they love.
Note: They also discussed how home buyers and sellers can keep themselves safe; these we’ll cover in a separate post .
Staying Safe While Online
From virtual open houses to social media, REALTORS® are increasingly operating in an online space. The panel had a lot of advice on how to avoid scams and predators while making the most of available online tools.
Ricky says that a critical element of online safety is frequently changing your passwords; you are in control of a lot of private data that could be catastrophic if released. And, don’t click links from random texts or emails, even if the person sending it appears to be someone from within your brokerage. Because of the available information on websites, scammers will do all they can to use that information to trick you.
When you’re on social media, Rayissa stresses you should disable location settings from your accounts. This way, if you go live, you’re not transmitting your exact address to anyone who happens to be watching. Jasmine adds that if you’re engaging in a conversation through a social channel that veers into the personal, firmly redirect back into business and block any offenders who refuse.
Online tools that can help keep you safe include communication tools like messaging software, shared calendars, and video conferencing sites. Jasmine mentions using a WhatsApp group with her brokerage to keep her coworkers informed where she is – you can even share a location there – and an up-to-date Google calendar for her family to know where she should be at all times. Jasmine also holds Zoom meetings with prospective clients first, so that she knows whom she’s dealing with in advance of meeting them in person.
Staying Safe While In Person
In addition to the online tools you can use to help communicate your location while on viewings, there are a lot of analog strategies that help keep both yourself and your clients safe.
A close call with an odd-seeming visitor had Rayissa’s brokerage change the way they run open houses. Now, they always have at least two agents on site at an open house, and register open house visitors via an app that checks their stated name against their driver’s license information. This protects both the REALTORS® on site, as well as creating a trail in case any valuables go missing during the open house. Ricky adds that basic training can be done with agents to promote safety: always stand behind or follow a viewer instead of walking in front of them, and have reception call in to the open house periodically to check that everything is fine.
Also, work to protect your client’s property: close the lockbox after using it and scramble the code, and change the passcode once the house has sold to restrict viewing agents from continued access. Check that the house’s doors and windows are locked after a showing to make sure that people didn’t leave them open to return later on.
Most importantly, remove yourself and your clients from situations that have escalated or seem dangerous. Don’t insert yourself into the middle of an altercation, and always call for help.
What’s most clear from the panel’s discussion is three simple words: trust your gut. For more safety tips, listen to the full episode .