That scare has once again renewed calls for agents to be diligent and cautious when working open houses or showings.
We spoke with Constable Gordon Reid of crime prevention and community relations for 14 division with the Toronto Police Service about what you can do to be safe while buying and selling.
1 – Trust your instincts
Reid says your instincts are usually spot-on. If something is making you uncomfortable, there’s reason for that.
“If something doesn’t feel right, it probably isn’t,” he tells REP
. “If you can get out of there, you should.”
2 – Initial contact at the office
Most agents already do this, but Reid says your initial contact with a client should be at the office. Outside of the safety considerations, this habit can be great for business.
“While there, take down personal information and photocopy their driver’s license and take down the make, model and colour of their vehicle,” he says. “You’re creating a client database and a safety net for yourself so people at the office can follow up if necessary.”
3 – Be aware of your surroundings
You should already be familiar with the area in which you’re selling, but Reid suggests looking at the neighbourhood with a different set of glasses.
“Do a drive-through of the neighbourhood beforehand,” he says. “See if there are any safety concerns. If they think there may be one, invoke the buddy system and go there with a partner.”
Some things to look out for:
4 – Ladies: leave your purse in the trunk
- The type of neighbourhood: is it more run down than other neighbourhoods?
- If the showing is at night, how good is the lighting?
- Get to know the layout of the house; find the exits and ensure they are left unlocked to give you a means of escape
Reid suggests that agents who carry a purse or bag leave cumbersome belongings locked out of sight in the trunk of the car.
“Have on you at least one piece of ID, your keys, and a cell phone in your hand,” he says.
Earlier this year, an agent in California narrowly escaped from the clutches of a convicted sex offender who handcuffed her at a show home where she was working.