We can all agree that within the last two decades, the greatest change to real estate has been the inclusion of the Internet.

In the beginning, it increased exposure of our brokerages, us individually, and eventually exposure of our listings to the masses. We discovered that with some simple online advertising we could generate leads far and wide, and to people with whom we’d had no previous personal connection.

This was very exciting. It opened up possibilities that we had never before dreamed, and real estate marketing became less “local” while the volume of sales increased. Personally, I was exhilarated; I was riding high on the wave of “success,” and I was madly in love with the Internet for helping me achieve my goals.

But like many things that start out well, we often one day realize we’ve lost our way. So let’s have an honest discussion about this situation. We work in a high-risk profession. Incidents are on the rise, and we can (and should) be accountable for our own safety.

Yes, support from the National Association of Realtors and regional associations is useful and validating, as is support from our various multiple listing services and individual brokerages. But can’t we agree that waiting for someone else to keep us safe is a risk simply too big to take? Isn’t it up to each of us to do all we can to be accountable for our own safety?

Both support and safety are desperately needed. While it’s right to strive for both, support is often an evolutionary process. But change can happen today. We can change how we meet with strangers we’ve met through online advertising, or via text message or a phone call.

We can say, “No. I can’t meet you at that vacant house until I have proof that you are who you say you are.”

There is great technology available today, designed for our fast-paced industry to help keep us safer. Here is a link to various safety alternatives.

When a crime has been committed, there are no “do-overs.” The crime changes our lives, and the lives of those who love us.

While I am indeed a real estate broker, I’m also the founder of a company intended to help keep agents safer. As such, I have had many discussions with agents about using methods to stay safer. And I have heard every excuse and reason that could or would prevent an agent from taking steps to be more accountable for their own safety.

The “agent” part of me understands this denial. A potential commission is a difficult thing to risk losing. Having said that, is a “potential” commission really worth risking your own safety?

I believe that it isn’t and I hope you do, too. I propose that we take an oath that we will do all we can do to keep ourselves safe and to be accountable for our well-being, instead of fearing for it.

By the time the media has finally coined a term for a specific event, that event has taken place numerous times. This is true for the term “crime by appointment,” which means an ill-intended person sets an appointment with an unsuspecting person (often to look at a home or other item for sale). When they meet, the unsuspecting person is ambushed and a crime takes place. This is a crime of opportunity; and real estate agents (merely by not changing our practice to respond to the changes around us) are prime targets.

One of the most chilling things I’ve ever heard was this recent statement from the accused killer of Beverly Carter. When asked by reporters why Carter was targeted, he responded, “Because she was just a woman that worked alone — a rich broker.”

Beverly Carter took many precautions for her safety, and she was the consummate professional. Yet because she was a woman working alone, she was a target for an ill-intended stranger who committed a heinous crime. Let us use her experience to better our industry, ourselves, and better the way we do business, and in doing so we will honor her life.

Lynn Robertson is designated broker for YourSeattleHomeTeam.com Inc. and the founder and CEO of Secure Show, which provides identify verification for safer face-to-face meetings.

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