Real Estate Crime is on the Rise: How to protect yourself and your clients

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“Stranger danger” is not just for kids anymore. It applies to you, your coworkers, and your clients. The real estate industry has seen a lot of crime through the years, and sadly the rates are increasing. Because the nature of the business is constantly meeting new people in new locations, crime is a part of the job. This has encouraged many real estate agents to adopt ways to protect themselves and their clients.

According to the National Association of Realtors, 40 percent of 3,000 real estate professionals in a recent survey reported being in a situation where they feared for their safety. These situations usually occurred in model homes, at open houses, during showings, or in properties in remote locations. The same poll revealed that at least one third of all agents have taken a self-defense class, while thirteen percent use a smartphone tracking app to track and share their location with their families or colleagues.

Crime continues to rise for homeowners who have listed their property. Open houses and showings invite both potential buyers and potential criminals into the home. Oftentimes, thieves may pose as potential buyers so they can case the home, only to return later to steal everything from art, to jewelry, to medications. Some thieves have begun to take advantage of keyless entry systems. They may reuse a code they have gained from an agent when they were posing as an interested buyer. If the agent has forgotten to reprogram the keyless lock, the thieves have an easy way in.

But while real estate crime continues to rise, so has the real estate industry’s ability to fight it. We have compiled lists of real estate crime dangers and what you and your client can do to avoid them. For more information on real estate crime and what you can do to protect yourself and others, or to sign up for a safety webinar, visit the National Association of Realtor’s webinar page.

Safety Tips for Clients:

  • Have clients put valuables into storage or safety deposit boxes
  • Tell clients to hide their medications
  • After an open house, have your clients go through their home to make sure nothing is missing
  • Ask your client to put away or hide all weapons, including kitchen knives

Safety Tips for Real Estate Professionals:

  • Consider not advertising your photo
  • Use a smartphone tracking app to alert others of your movements and location
  • Make sure your personal contact information is not available online or in print
  • Take a self-defense class
  • Carry, and know how to use, mace
  • Never hand out keys to a property
  • Lock your bag or purse in your car
  • Always try to meet new clients at your office first

Be Aware of Real Estate Crime Dangers:

  • Keyless entry systems: If you use them, reprogram them after sharing the code.
  • Open houses
  • Vacant houses
  • Remote locations
  • Unlocked or unsecured properties

Stay Safe at Open Houses, Showings, and Model Homes:

  • Never show a property after dark
  • Always drive yourself to and from a property—never accept a ride
  • Try to never go alone
  • Park on the street, not in the driveway
  • Make sure your phone is fully charged
  • When first entering the home, check all rooms and closets
  • Assess and plan escape routes
  • Assess the backyard for escape routes
  • Never walk ahead of a client–always have them walk ahead of you
  • Avoid attics, basements and small rooms
  • Inform the neighbors that you will be hosting an open house
  • Use a Smartphone tracking app or safety call system and agree on a distress word
  • Prior to closing up an open house, check all of the rooms
  • Have clients use a guest register when viewing a model home or attending an open house

 

For more information about real estate crime risks and what you can do to protect yourself, go to the National Association of Realtors safety page: http://www.realtor.org/topics/realtor-safety/articles

 

This blog/website is made available by CRES Insurance Services for educational purposes to give you general information and understanding of legal risks and insurance options, not to provide specific legal advice. This blog/website should not be used as a substitute for competent legal advice from a licensed professional attorney in your state. Claims examples are for illustrative purposes only. Read your policy for a complete description of what is covered and excluded.

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