According to the National Association of REALTORS(R) (NAR) 2017 Member Safety Survey, almost half of female REALTORS(R) (44 percent) and one in four male REALTORS(R) have experienced a situation in the past year that made them fear for their personal safety or safety of their personal information.
"No agent should feel unsafe when they are doing their job, but that’s the unfortunate reality of many agents in communities nationwide,"
says Carl Carter Jr., a real estate agent and founder of the Beverly Carter Foundation, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit dedicated to improving safety for all real estate professionals. "As an industry, we need to improve the tools and resources available to agents so they feel safe and protected."
While it might not seem like a dangerous occupation, data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics shows there were almost 100 fatalities of real estate professionals in 2016 alone. Predatory crimes against REALTORS(R) are a growing problem, with criminals often seeking out opportunities to isolate agents in a secluded location. This is made possible by the fact that many agents are scheduling almost half of their showings with people who have not been screened by another agent, according to data analytics from Gogint.
New mobile technology, such as SentriLocks SentriSmart app, is one way agents can stay safe. When the SentriSmart mobile app is used to open a lockbox, the Agent Safety Feature will launch. This feature automatically alerts an agent’s designated emergency contacts when the agent does not or cannot confirm his or her safety.
To help improve agent safety and reduce the opportunity for a potentially harmful situation to occur, SentriLock is sharing seven safety tips for real estate agents:
1. Have a second meeting only policy. Meet clients in the office or another public location before agreeing to a private showing. This gives you (and other colleagues) the opportunity to vet them. You should also ask for a form of identification so you can confirm that they are who they claim to be.
2. Make sure someone always knows your location. Before leaving for a showing, provide a colleague, friend or spouse with the address of the property where you're going, along with the name and personal information of the client you’re meeting. Utilize location finding devices such as "Find my iPhone" so someone can easily track the location of your phone if necessary.
3. Be mindful of what you wear. While you always want to put your best foot forward with a client, you also don’t want to appear attractive to criminals by wearing expensive jewelry or watches. It’s best to leave the Rolex at home. Keep this in mind when taking photos for marketing materials, as well.
4. Program emergency numbers as favorites. While you might have familiar numbers memorized, such as those to your office, emergency contact or colleague, program them into your phones as a "favorite" so they can be easily accessed in an emergency situation.
5. Let the client take the lead. You may be inclined to lead clients through the property, but its safer to follow them so you always have them in your full view. Avoid going into the basement of a property and always be mindful of exit locations.
6. Keep control of keys to the property at all times. Be sure to know exactly where property keys are located all times. Leaving keys outside of the home in locations such as under the doormat, above the door or behind a bush can expose you to the possibility of someone copying the key without your knowledge. Use a secure, electronic lock-box system so you can better control keys and access to a property.
7. Follow your instinct. Most agents who have been victims of crime said they felt something was off but didn’t do anything. If something feels out of place, don't hesitate to stop a showing or open house and leave immediately.
"Agent safety is our top priority and we’re always looking for ways to give agents and their families greater peace of mind," says Scott Richardson, chief operating officer, SentriLock. "In our upcoming series of in-person and online safety initiatives, our goal is to reach as many agents as possible to provide them with the knowledge they need to stay safe."
To further educate agents about steps they can take to protect themselves, SentriLock will present "Keeping Safety First While Selling" during the Women’s Council of REALTORS(R) event on May 19 at 8:30 a.m. at the Washington Hilton in Washington, D.C.
Agents can also sign up for the complimentary webinar, "Safely Selling," which will take place on June 13 at 1:00 p.m. ET. To sign up for this online event, please click SentriLockWebEx.
For more information, please visit www.sentrilock.com.
Jason Grace is AZ Social Realty's content editor. Email him your real estate news ideas at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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