A member recently reported an incident regarding a buyer whom she had not yet met. The buyer created a relationship of trust on the phone and on a subsequent call exhibited inappropriate behavior which resulted in police involvement. The area code used by the caller was 609 and the number displayed as out of area.
September is Realtor Safety Month and this incident is a good reminder to use care and caution when meeting clients for the first time. In the case above, the parties never met in person, but the agent was ready to do so.
Know thy client.
"If you're meeting with someone for the first time, like a buyer who called you after seeing one of your ads, you don't know if the person is 'legit' or if he's a criminal looking for new prey," said Matt Lombardi, a National Association of Realtors vice president who helps manage the trade group's National Safety Program.
"So, you need to get as much information about the person as you can before you decide to start working with him or her."
The best bet is to gently insist that the prospect first meet in your office, where you know that you'll be safe and the potential customer will be seen by other agents, Lombardi said.
At a minimum, he added, you'll need to get the person's full name, contact information, and a copy of his driver's license. That way, authorities will know who to look for if something goes wrong later.
Even better, Lombardi said, is to have the office visitor complete NAR's "Prospect Identification Form." The form asks for more detailed information, including the name and phone number of his employer, the type of car he drives, and its plate number.
Check out more safety tips from the National Association of Realtors