Despite the illusion of more safety, the reality is that slightly more Realtors — 6 percent in 2018, compared to 5 percent in 2017 — were victims of a crime last year.

Fewer Realtors feared for their safety and personal information this year compared to 2017, according to the most recent National Association of Realtors (NAR) 2018 Member Safety Report.

The survey, released annually as part of the association’s Realtor Safety Month every September, found that just 33 percent of Realtors expressed feeling fear, compared to 38 percent last year, 39 percent in 2016 and 40 percent in 2015.

Despite the illusion of more safety, the reality is, that slightly more Realtors in total – 6 percent in 2018, compared to 5 percent in 2017 – said they were victims of a crime last year. Just 1 percent of Realtors reported being victims of assault or robbery, the same as last year. But the increase in total crime victimization was due to a rise in identity theft, from 1 percent last year to 2 percent in 2018, according to the data.

NAR Safety Report 2018 chart

Percent of survey respondents who reported being the victim of a crime in 2017 and 2018. Credit: NAR 2018 Member Safety Report

NAR believes that the increased feeling of safety is partially due to their Realtor safety initiatives, which include online tools, social media tips, classes and webinars.

“We’re trying to make sure safety tools and tips get into our NAR members’ hands, we want to make sure that they are safe doing their jobs on a daily basis,” said Jessica Lautz, director of demographic and behavioral insights at NAR. “And so putting those tips out there, we do think the needle is being moved, which is a positive development.”

“[The] Common situations that caused fear [were]: open houses, vacant homes/model homes, properties that were unlocked or unsecured, buyers who refused to meet in public places, properties in remote areas,” the report states.

The percentage of Realtors that feared for their safety or personal information, according to NAR’s latest study. Credit: NAR 2018 Member Safety Report

Overall, women in suburban areas were more likely to feel unsafe, with women feeling unsafe in the profession overall more than men – 41 percent compared to 20 percent. Men and women in all categories reported feeling safer this year, compared to last.

With many more Realtors feeling safe, fewer are conducting their day-to-day while armed with some sort of weaponry. 43 percent of NAR members carry self-defense weapons – down from 49 percent in 2017 – with pepper spray and firearms being the most common. Women overwhelmingly prefer to carry pepper spray, while firearms are the weapon of choice for men, according to the study.

The types of weapons Realtors chose to protect themselves, according to the NAR survey. Credit: NAR 2018 Member Safety Report

More Realtors are actually opting for technology solutions to safety worries, with 47 percent using apps, versus 44 percent in 2017.

“The use of smartphone safety apps are one of the things that each year, there are new tools, there are new smartphone apps and people are embracing those – I think that’s a really positive development as well,” said Lautz.

The most common app is Find My iPhone, an app that allows users to log into Apple accounts to locate devices. A similar program, but for Android users, was the second most popular.

“As a safety precaution, many members listed notifying a spouse, friend, or family member of their location before showing a home,” the report says. “Females are more likely to use apps or a safety notification procedure at 56 percent compared to 35 percent for males.”

Realtors, overall, are becoming laxer with their precautions when it comes to meeting with a new client, possibly a byproduct of feeling more secure. The typical respondent reported meeting prospective clients with whom they’ve never had a previous meeting at their office or neutral location just 40 percent of the time, down from 50 percent in 2017.

Fewer than 50 percent of Realtors surveyed were aware of their brokerage’s standard procedures in place for Realtor safety – although 71 percent said their brokerages have procedures for proper safekeeping and disposal of client data.

The report was started back in 2015 by former NAR president Chris Polychron after Arkansas Realtor Beverly Carter was kidnapped and murdered after a home showing in Polychron’s home state.

“Under his presidency, he did make Realtor safety a priority and within that, we wanted to take a survey to see where we are right now, before we even started a program on Realtor safety,” said Lautz.

NAR’s 2018 survey was sent to 53,681 association members, with 3,049 responses for a response rate of 5.7 percent.

Email Patrick Kearns

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