Unfortunately, we live in a world where evil exists.
We recently received some sad news here at Realeflow. One of our team members learned that a friend of his, a real estate investor here in Northeast Ohio, was the victim of a violent crime that ultimately took his life.
It happened when he was visiting one of his rental properties. One minute, he was going to check on his property; the next, he was gone, taken by a senseless act of violence.
Unfortunately, this is not the first time that we have been impacted by this type of situation. Two years ago, a husband and wife real estate investing team, who happened to also be part of the Realeflow family, lost their lives when visiting a rental property to collect late rent from their tenant.
These are some of the unspoken hazards of real estate investing that very few think about, and even fewer talk about.
We owe it to our friends, our families, and ourselves to take a minute to talk about safety in our business and how we can make sure we come home safely at the end of the day.
Here are a few things that can help accomplish that incredibly important task.
1. Have a Plan
The first step in any safety plan, is to have a plan. This is for not only when you're out visiting rental properties, but also when you're meeting with sellers, buyers, or anyone in your business.
Putting an effective plan together involves sitting down by yourself, or with your team members, and talking about some of the situations that you might find yourself in throughout your day-to-day, then discussing how you can respond to those situations effectively.
2. Situational Awareness
The second most important safety tip (if not the most important) is to always be aware of your surroundings. Most self defense instructors call this Situational Awareness and consider it to be the MOST powerful self defense weapon you have.
This includes knowing your surroundings, where people might be leading you, and where the bad parts of town are. Other things like checking your mirrors before you exit your car, and always looking left and right as you enter and exit a home to make sure there are no surprises waiting are part of situational awareness.
A little situational awareness can not only help you stay out of trouble, but can also help you have valuable time to respond to anything that might be happening around you. Let's face it, criminals love a complacent person with their face buried in their phone, not fully aware of what's happening around them.
3. Background checks
Always perform background checks on your tenants so you can be aware of any violent criminal history.
Be aware, that you have to be careful to not discriminate against anyone, including those with criminal pasts. This information helps you stay informed so you can make safe decisions when meeting with someone with a criminal past. If you have this information, it is always smart to take someone with you to any face to face meetings.
This also goes along with the concept of situational awareness. Always know what you're walking into.
4. Inform Someone Of Where You're Going
Every time you, or a team member, are going to visit a rental property, or inspect a property with a seller, let someone know.
This gives law enforcement valuable information that saves them time in the event that something happens to you.
All it takes is a text, phone call, email, or away status.
If you have a smart phone with a feature like Find My iPhone, leave it on and attached to a computer so someone can see where you're at, or where you've been, in the event of an emergency.
5. Take Someone With You
If you are going to visit a tenant or a seller, it's always a good idea to take someone with you.
Having another person with you dramatically decreases your chances of something bad happening.
Always make sure to inform the person that you're meeting that you might have someone with you, and take a moment to introduce the two parties so they feel comfortable.
Saying something like, "I'll see you at ____ p.m. I might have my business partner/wife/team member with me," can go a long way in making them feel more comfortable with a stranger coming to view their home.
6. Leverage Technology
There are increasingly more apps and technology out there that allow Real Estate Agents and Real Estate Investors to notify someone if they're in destress with the push of a button. Here are a few that the National Association of Realtors recommend.
Some apps even allow you to set a timer to notify someone that you may be in distress if you're away at a property for too long.
7. Self Defense Weapons
This next recommendation might be a bit controversial, but it is something to consider. Keep a self defense weapon on your person.
According to a recent study by the National Association of Realtors, 43% of their members chose to carry a self defense weapon of some sort.
These weapons don't always have to be firearms, but include things like pepper spray, tasers, knives, or batons. Regardless of what type of weapon it is, always make sure you train with it so you are comfortable in knowing how to safely and effectively use it.
Check with your local police department (non-emergency line) to find out what self defense weapons can be carried in your city.
After going through all these, I wanted to make something clear.
You shouldn't live in fear.
Some of these things might make the hair on the back of your neck stand up when you think about them, but that doesn't mean you should live your life in a state of fear.
This industry of ours, the one that we love, and this country that we love, is one founded on Freedom. Living in constant fear is not freedom.
This article is about being prepared and feeling confident that if anything were to ever happen to you, you would be ready.
What are some of the things you do to stay safe in your business? Share them below.