Eva Steinwald is a real estate agent and broker in Boise, Idaho, but her career has dovetailed with her other passion: martial arts. She became an agent in 1998, just a year after buying Idaho Martial Arts in Eagle.
After a few years working as a real estate agent, I realized how unaware other agents were about their safety when working with buyers and sellers.
This raised red flags for her. “Agents don’t take their safety seriously enough,” she says. “Even though we live in beautiful Boise, you always have to be alert and aware.”
Eva wrote a Realtor safety course that focused on common sense, best practices, and tools to stay safe. The class is now available for CE credit and covers working in the office, working with buyers and sellers, holding open houses, being onsite, safety in the car and on social media, cell phone safety, identity theft, and safety in home offices.
We asked Eva for her top tips to stay safe during selling season and beyond.
Avoid this common mistake.
In our current seller’s market, real estate agents are too eager to show homes. Many meet the buyer, someone they have never met, at the home itself. Agents need to take the time to have an official one-on-one meeting or consultation with the buyer. This can take place at the office — the preferred location — or in a public space. Criminals don’t like witnesses. Once they have been seen with a person, they will think twice about doing something.
If you meet a buyer in a public space, explain that your brokerage has an office policy that requires the agent to take a picture of the buyer’s driver’s license. As a follow up, text the driver’s license to your brokerage or significant other. Once again: Criminals don’t like witnesses.
Communicate, communicate, communicate.
It’s the number one thing an agent can do to be safer on the job. Communicate where you are and who you are with. Communication is key to the real estate agent’s safety. Agents are so focused on getting something under contract that they can lose track of time, which makes them vulnerable.
Keep your safety top of mind.
The National Association of Realtors has a regularly updated safety page. It has tools, tips, webinars, videos, and statistics. They also update apps and gadgets since those change so quickly. It’s the best resource out there for agents. I personally check it weekly.
Follow the 10-second rule.
This simple checklist can help you identify potentially harmful situations. It seems basic, but if you practice it you will stay safe.
- Take two seconds when you arrive at your destination. Is there any questionable activity in the area? Are you parked in a well-lit, visible location? Can you be blocked in the driveway by a prospect’s vehicle?
- Take two seconds when you step out of your car. Are there suspicious people around? Do you know exactly where you’re going?
- Take two seconds as you walk toward your destination. Are people coming and going or is the area unusually quiet? Do you observe any obstacles or hiding places in the parking lot or along the street? Is anyone loitering in the area?
- Take two seconds at the door. Do you have an uneasy feeling as you walk in? Is someone following you in?
- Take two seconds as soon as you enter your destination. Does anything seem out of place? Is anyone present who shouldn’t be there or who isn’t expected?
In 10 seconds total, you can spot and avoid danger. Make it a habit, then share it with someone else.
Take a safety course
Even if you think you don’t need it. Over the years teaching the Realtor Safety Course, what surprised me the most is how many seasoned agents were grateful that they attended the course. You would think it only applies to new agents (in my opinion, it should be required), but so many seasoned agents become comfortable with their daily routines and don’t realize how vulnerable they are.
Eva’s next Realtor Safety Course will be from 1-5 p.m. Oct. 29. Cost is $35. To sign up for this 4CE course, visit the Idaho Real Estate Commission’s education page.