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Realtor safety: Prospect or predator?

If we could show you the most dangerous pattern that you as a real estate professional perform during the duties of your job, what do you think it would be?

Our interactions with those who have experienced predatorial attacks while doing their job have shown that many of these violent encounters have one thing in common. Have you ever considered what that might be? Or do you have the “it will never happen to me” approach to safety measures and protocol?

Arriving at the front door of a property listing, your excitement gets the best of you. Is this the one they will buy? Without a thought, you turn your back, you bend over to open the lockbox, and leave your prospect standing inches behind you while you unlock the door.

Do you see your pattern yet?

With the door unlocked you stand back and let your prospect walk in, but before they begin viewing the home, you quickly gain that lead position in front of them, because you need to ensure they know this room is the kitchen and that is the living room. Has it hit you yet, that everyday action you perform on your job without a thought? We are aware of too many who have been hit due to this pattern.

The showing is going well! Positive buying signs! Your prospect is asking lots of questions, the interest being shown is increasing your self-esteem and your confidence is going through the roof. You start asking the closing questions that you learned during the first six months of your new career from the senior Realtor who worked with you at that time. After all, that’s the only training that some of us received. My guy’s name was Bill.

You begin to ask the questions. “Can you see yourself living here?”, “Does the size of this home fit your needs?” Soon you find yourself at the stairs leading to the second level. You’re very aware from your prospect’s input on the main level, that they love this home. Leading the way up the stairs, you keep engaging and asking those closing questions that have become second nature to you.

As you reach the landing, you turn to welcome your prospect to the second floor. Your inviting smile is reciprocated with a smirk – and a stun gun. Your prospect is a predator! The next thing you hear is, “This is going to be the worst day of your life…”, as the kinetic energy weapon sends you into a pile of semi-unconscious mess on the floor.

What do you think – is this story fact or fiction? Do you see that pattern yet?

The story we just shared is fact. We will not go into the details of what happened after the electroshock weapon was deployed, but we will tell you this: far too many of our peers have found themselves at the hands of individuals, who, for whatever reason, have decided to target them, either for their valuables, their body or their life. Another thing you need to understand is that predators will go to unimaginable lengths to achieve their goal.

As violence prevention specialists completing training with real estate professionals, we often hear the same type of imaginative statements, telling us how they would deal with someone who tries to hurt them. Male Realtors often tell us, “Your training is for women, I know how to handle myself.” Many female Realtors believe kicking a man in the “junk” will take care of anyone who has thoughts of sexually assaulting them.

A study completed through the Washington Department of Health showed average males are actually 4,000 per cent less able to defend themselves than they think they are. And the truth is, the groin kick most often fails because that area of the male anatomy and its effectiveness as a primary target is compromised by many things. Let’s not forget your cognitive inability to overcome hesitation and our moral consciousness of believing that hurting someone is wrong. The only thing your failure has done now is increase the violence of the attack.

NOT BEING A LEADER is a concept of space management that is critical to your safety.

Our discussions with those who have been attacked shows that many, not all, but many of these attacks occur from behind, either when the real estate professional is not looking or at the time when they turn to say something to their predator. Shock and awe – guess who just lost.

If we can share one thing with you, something we know that will assist you in being safe while performing your job, it’s this. DON’T BE A LEADER during showings or during property work-ups.

Keep a minimum distance of two meters, or six feet between you and the prospect at all times, even if you think you know them. We were preaching a two-meter safety rule long before it became COVID-19 cool.

Why two meters? An attack against you can happen in 3/100ths of a second. If you’re closer than two meters your brain and body can’t identify nor react to motion that quickly. Two meters will allow you enough space and time to move, respond and possibly get out of the way, rather than becoming another statistic.

As you have just learned, the space management concept is important to our safety as real estate professionals. It needs to be part of our standard education and training. The concept needs to be applied to showings, offer presentations, property work-ups, open houses and even your own office set up. Yes, your own office is an area where violence within our industry can, and has, happened – but we’ll keep that for another article.

Next time you are out on a showing, remember these words: DON’T BE A LEADER, and TWO METERS. We know it makes a difference for your safety and will possibly save your life.