“Knowledge. Awareness. Empowerment. These are the core components of Realtor Safety. And helping our members understand the risks they face can mean the difference between life and death.“
With those words, the National Association of Realtors’ 2017 Member Safety Report begins its dive into deep issues regarding Realtor security issues.
The report gauges respondents’ feelings about overall job safety, defense methods, office policies on protecting agents and the effectiveness of NAR programs aimed at providing Realtors with proactive safety tips.
While Realtors seem to be stepping up to the plate when it comes to ensuring their safety, many respondents feel that brokerages may have some additional work to do.
Thirty percent of Realtors said they didn’t know if their brokerage had safety procedures, while 26 percent said there weren’t any guidelines at all. Meanwhile, less than half (44 percent) of respondents knew their brokerage’s safety guidelines.
A third of Realtors have experienced a scary situation
The year-over-year change from the 2016 and 2017 reports are minuscule, showing that the majority (62 percent) of Realtors still feel safe as they perform their day-to-day duties of meeting clients, showing homes to prospective buyers and hosting open houses.
Sixty-two percent of respondents said they didn’t “experience a situation that made them fear for their personal safety or safety of their personal information.” On the other hand, 38 percent of respondents said they experienced a scary situation while visiting vacant or model homes, checking out unlocked and unsecured properties or going to remote areas.
Of the 38 percent of Realtors who said they’ve felt unsafe over the past year, 44 percent were women — almost double the share of men who reported the same. When it comes to where they feel unsafe, suburban areas (40 percent) topped the list, followed by urban areas (39 percent) and small towns (38 percent).
Although a little over a third of respondents said they’ve felt unsafe, only 5 percent of them have actually been the victim of a violent or non-violent crime, with robberies (2 percent) being the most common experience.
Be proactive — not reactive
Respondents reported using a number of proactive measures to ensure their safety, such as taking self-defense classes (39 percent), participating in NAR Realtor safety courses (20 percent), using smart phone safety apps (44 percent) or notifying a co-worker, friend or spouse about their whereabouts.
When it comes to self-defense weapons, 57 percent of women carry a weapon compared to 52 percent of men. Women favor less lethal weapons such as pepper spray (27 percent) and tasers (12 percent), while men favor firearms (25 percent) and pocket knives (11 percent).
How to create your own plan
The best safety practices for one agent won’t necessarily be the same for another, as well-known safety expert Paula Monthofer pointed out in a 2016 training webinar for NAR.
Monthofer says that when it comes to carrying weapons, agents should only choose options they are completely comfortable with using: “If you’re not willing to use it without hesitation and with deadly force, you don’t need a weapon,” she warned.
Other than that, Monthofer recommends utilizing smart home and social media technology — such as security cameras and live streams — during open houses since they can provide evidence of who was present in the event of a crime.
She also encourages agents to avoid going anywhere solo; adopt a buddy system for attending meetings so no one is ever alone or vulnerable.
As far as brokerages are concerned, Monthofer says owners should create standard practices that agents can adhere to when meeting with clients.
She suggests establishing the following four requirements:
- Guidelines for where you’ll meet. Make it clear that all meetings need to take place at the office or in a public place, such as Starbucks.
- Required consultations. Perform an in-depth consultation before taking someone on as a client. Keep a questionnaire on hand so you can actually listen to their answers and pick up on their body language. She said consultations can prevent you from taking on a client that has ulterior motives.
- Require ID. Don’t take someone’s word that they are who they say they are. Ask them to provide ID as a safety precaution.
- Create business hours. Monthofer says she doesn’t conduct business after 6 p.m. on weekdays and on Sundays. This, she said, teaches clients to respect her time and it keeps her from having to go out at night.
Read the full report here.