For women in the real estate business, there is a fine line between wanting to sell a home and not putting yourself in harm’s way. Often, our office is a vacant house. Because it is so widely known that we are often alone in empty houses, it definitely makes female real estate agents targets. As a female realtor, it is so important to be taking proactive steps to ensure your own safety while showing homes.
After a few incidents that made me less than comfortable, I decided enough was enough and took my safety into my own hands. I was recently featured on NBC Chicago because of my decision to conceal carry while I am working. To me, it is not extreme to want to protect my life. I want to help others be safe as well, so I created this safety checklist. My goal is to help keep other professionals safe while still being the boss!
1. PROTECT YOURSELF
Take your safety into your own hands by having something on your person that could be used as a self-defense weapon. Whether you are comfortable with having a firearm, or mace, or even a stun gun—make sure you have something that makes you feel protected. A word of caution, having a firearm and not knowing how to load the magazine or fire it will only be giving you a false sense of security and putting yourself in another dangerous situation. If you do have a firearm, mace or stun gun, make sure you know how to use it!
2. BE AWARE
Is something making you uncomfortable? Assess the situation and ask yourself why. Determining “why” you are uncomfortable can help you get out of a situation before it escalates. Try not to avoid eye contact or keep your head down. Take notice of unusual behaviors–Is someone asking odd questions or lingering a little too long? Don’t be afraid of being impolite. Trust your gut if someone or something is making you uncomfortable. It is not often a potential attacker will be acting like a normal client moments before they try something. If you are aware of your surroundings, it should be simple enough to spot something that is not quite right with the situation. Whether it is what they say or their actions, you have every right to protect yourself and get out.
3. KEEP IT LIGHT
Keep showings during the daytime. Since it is winter in Chicago, I know that might be hard. However, when possible it is a smart and simple way to keep safe. Someone is less likely to try something during the day and people are more likely to witness any suspicious behavior. When possible, rearrange your schedule — if you know you are dealing with previous clients, schedule those appointments in the evening. Keep new clients and open houses during the daylight.
4. THE FAUX PHONE CALL
It is good practice for any uncomfortable situation, threatening or not, to have a friend who knows where you are and knows you would only call if you needed help. Call your friend and say an agreed upon phrase that lets them know you need help before alerting the potential threat. They can then send help without alerting the threat that you are privy to the situation.
If you do find yourself in a scary situation, make sure you learn de-escalation techniques and implement them into the situation. These can include simple self-defense techniques to deter the threat and allow you time to get away. It can also mean not showing your anger or fear in a situation until you can alert someone to help.
These steps are so simple, but could be the tools to saving your own life when necessary. I know from experience that these situations are more common than you might think. Now more than ever, women need to take the initiative to protect ourselves. No one has the right to take away your feeling of safety in the workplace. For that matter, no one has the right to take away your desire to go out there and be the boss! By implementing this safety checklist, we can take back our business and our lives.