Real estate agents have a reputation for being attractive, friendly people that carry high tech devices and spend a lot of time going into closed, unfamiliar buildings with strangers. It's a recipe for disaster. When you are a leasing agent or Realtor working one-on-one with apartment hunters, there is a heightened risk of becoming a victim of a crime.
According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, an average of 27.25 agents died annually due to person-on-person violence on the job from 2011-2014. 17.75 of those deaths were homicides. In fact, on the job violence is the highest cause of fatalities for agents - by contrast, an average of 21.5 agents died annually from car accidents on the job, the next highest cause of death, during the same time frame.
As a former agent myself, I can tell you that I was constantly bombarded by reminders of proper safety practices that every agent should take to protect themselves while working. I also had several well-meaning clients who made me very uncomfortable by innocently undermining the steps I was taking to ensure my own safety.
If you're a normal apartment hunter, it's important to understand the self-protective actions your agent may be taking while they're showing an apartment to you. A good agent is hard to find and you definitely don't want to scare off yours by accidentally making them feel unsafe. (You also don't want to get hit with pepper spray due to a misunderstanding!) Here's a list of some do's and don'ts to make sure your agent feels safe around you.
- Let them follow you up and down stairs. They don't want you to push them or to point your camera up their skirt.
- Don't make your agent call anyone during the showing. They probably have 9-1 entered into their phone just waiting for the last 1.
- Don't offer to drive them anywhere, and don't expect them to drive you anywhere.
- Don't add them as a Facebook friend until after your search is over. Don't be upset if they refuse your friend request. Adding them on LinkedIn or following them on Twitter is cool, but keep your social media interactions professional.
- Don't close the apartment door once you're inside. Let the agent handle it. The agent should know if there is a pet inside. In all other situations they will probably want the door to remain open so they can call for help if needed.
- Keep your hands in clear view. If you need to get something out of your bag such as a pen or a camera, let them know what you're doing before you reach inside.
- If you're a gun owner, don't bring it to showings or open houses. If you must bring your weapon to a showing or open house, keep it concealed.
- Don't compliment or mention your agent's gadgets, jewelry or purse unless they mention it themselves.
- While indoors, stay in the same room as your agent, and make sure they can always see you.
- If you must view a property after dark, return another day during daylight hours to look at the outside. Do not ask your agent to accompany you into unlit, isolated areas such as a fenced backyard or alley.