Safety While Selling
The real estate business tends to be a solitary profession, enough so that agents can find themselves in potentially vulnerable settings. Associates meet one-on-one with clients, in some cases for the first time, at vacant houses. The get-togethers can be after dark, in secluded parts of town or way out in the country.
In the case of agents, they fall into demographic groups generally more susceptible to attack. Currently 63 percent of all Realtors are women, according to the National Association of Realtors. Average age is 53, although as independent contractors, agents can be full- or part-time from their 20s to 70s or older.
The NAR observes Realtor Safety Month each September. “This is an excellent opportunity for all Realtors to reflect on the importance of staying safe on the job, while embracing a commitment to follow good safety practices throughout the year,” according to an article in Realtor magazine. “Sadly, incidents involving the personal safety of real estate professionals continue to occur every day,” the story says.
Among the steps the association takes to get out the word about safety are free webinars entitled “Do This Now” and “Stay Safe by Building Better Business Relationships.” No-charge Internet workshops also take place in April, and another 20 safety-related classes are archived online.
Yearly, the association produces a “member safety report.” The 2017 document surveys members on “professional or work-related situations that prompted fear, their use of self-defense weapons and safety apps and proactive safety procedures in their brokerage.” According to the NAR, the report’s mission is to gauge the extent of safety risks Realtors might face, help brokerages benchmark their efforts and determine areas of improvement.
According to last year's report, less than half of NAR members said their office has standard procedures for agent safety, and another 28 percent responded, “I don’t know.”
The NAR says, “If your office hasn’t instituted safety procedures, start now. The time to prepare is before someone becomes a victim.”
Meanwhile, the association offers social media safety tips on a weekly basis through a “shareable visual graphic” on its official Twitter, Facebook and Instagram pages. And a new grant program assists state and local Realtor association in launching safety plans for members and encourage awareness. Go to www.NAR.realtor/safety.
At least one personal safety company is promoting its wares during real estate safety month.
Pepper spray manufacturer SABRE Security Equipment Corp. highlighted how real estate agents can stay safe, including:
Have an exit excuse – If a situation doesn’t feel right, always have a way to get out.
Create a check-in plan – Alert family and co-workers when heading to open houses or meeting with clients, and set up a code word for when you need help.
Maintain your privacy – Never use your home address or number on business cards or paperwork and keep your social media client-free.
Know your way – Practice your route so you’re confident and can’t be taken advantage of on the road.
Protect yourself – The smartest thing to do is take your personal safety into your own hands.
The St. Louis-based company touts its self-defense products for real estate agents. “From driving in cars with strangers to waiting alone at open houses, Realtors deal with a unique set of personal safety problems while on the job,” the business says.
“In addition to having the right tools, we also try to give our clients the right knowledge to stay safe,” says David Nance, company chief executive. “We believe you should always be proactive,” he notes, adding that the venture offers a number of “highly effective and equally discreet self-defense options they can easily be put to use in any situation.”
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