September is Realtor Safety Month
The National Association of REALTORS® has dedicated September as REALTOR® Safety Month. The goal is to help members understand the risks they face through knowledge, awareness and empowerment.
A 2017 NAR Member Safety Report showed that 38% of real estate professionals have experienced a situation where they feared for their personal safety including robbery, assault, and identity theft.
A quick search on the internet shows headlines like – realtor attacked at open house, real estate agent hosting open house robbed at gun point, and a man accused of attempting to sexually assault real estate agent during a home tour.
Situations that caused realtors the most fear included open houses, vacant homes, vacant model homes, and properties that were unlocked, properties that were unsecured, and properties located in remote areas.
Here are some precautions that realtors can take to improve their safety:
- Inform colleagues or family members when you are showing a home or property. Stay in contact with them.
- When possible have a colleague or someone else (buddy system) join you in the open house or property tour.
- Try and have new clients come to your office first and complete a personal identification form and get a copy of their driver’s license.
- During an open house, have all guests sign in or ask for a business card.
- If you are able, take a picture of your client and/or their vehicle’s license plate.
- Keep your gas tank full and make sure your cell phone is fully charged.
- When possible, use secured electronic lockboxes.
- Tour the area and the property before your clients arrive (situational awareness). This allows you to be familiar with the property inside and out. Turn on all lights, raise blinds, unlock and open doors, etc.
- Try to schedule appointments and keep appointments to daytime hours.
- Protect as much of your personal information as you can. Try and keep work and private life information separate.
- Some safety groups suggest carrying pepper spray, carrying a stun gun or learning self-defense.
- Trust your instincts. If something does not feel right find a way to leave.