What You Should Know about Realtor Safety Month
Tips, Things to Always Keep in Mind, & More When it Comes to Realtor Safety Month.
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The month of September, Realtor Safety Month, is very important in regards to spreading awareness about some of the many dangers Realtors face when they’re just trying to do their job. The National Association of Realtors has the ultimate goal of spreading knowledge, awareness, and empowerment.
The unknown truth about a profession as a Realtor (real estate agent) is that there are a lot more safety risks than you might think. According to the National Association of Realtors 2018 Member Safety Report, 33 percent of its members said they were scared for their personal safety or the safety of their personal information at some point throughout the year. The number rose to a pretty shocking 41 percent for women in the same survey. 40 percent of real estate agents have also said that they felt unsafe while working every few months.
Why is working as a real estate agent so risky?
- Real estate agents typically work by themselves. They’re independent contractors who spend most of their time in the field, working in a number of different houses. They show properties and hold open houses by themselves. Criminals are aware of this, and oftentimes will single out real estate agents because of their vulnerability.
- Agents will be working around people they don’t know. When they meet someone at a property, they have no way of knowing who they could be dealing with. They could be showing a home to someone who has very ill intentions. Felons, drug addicts, and more.
- Agents don’t have any control where their properties are going to be located. Although they can specialize in selling homes to a certain community, it’s hard to know where those homes may be. They could be in a property that was foreclosed or had been abandoned
- How do people hear about open houses in the area? Public advertising! If a criminal comes across an advertisement for an open house, this could become an invitation for them to commit a crime.
Popular Cases of Dangerous Situations Involving Real Estate Agents
Tinley Park, Illinois
In 2019, a female real estate agent was alone in the house with a potential client named Stanley Keller. What the real estate agent didn’t know was that Stanley was an ex-con. Keller asked the Realtor to show him the upstairs bedrooms, basement, and garage. As she began the tour, the agent knew that something was off with this client right away. He was walking a bit of a distance behind her, and didn’t really seem all that interested in the home itself.
When the agent turned to face the man after she felt a vibration in her back, he was holding a stun gun straight at her. Fortunately, the real estate agent was able to escape without any additional harm. Soon after, the police arrived at the location and successfully found Keller. He was later charged with attempted aggravated criminal sexual assualt.
Elizabeth City, North Carolina
In 2019, another real estate agent was faced with a similar dangerous situation that took place in Elizabeth City, North Carolina. The real estate agent told police that a man, by the name of Nathaniel Jonathan Cox, had met with the agent at her office to discuss investments into the area’s real estate market. The agent decided to show the man a property nearby, but things soon took a turn for the worse.
Once Cox and the agent met up at the property, the man became inappropriate towards her. He grabbed her arm several times after she repeatedly declined sexual advances. The situation escalated even further when the man would not let the agent leave the property and even blocked her out using his own car. Fortunately, the agent was able to call the police and have them arrive at the scene pretty soon after. Cox was then charged with second-degree kidnapping and assault on a female.
Realtor Safety Tips
While these situations are of course not meant to scare you if you’re a real estate agent, it’s important to remain aware of the possible dangers. Learn more about what you can do to prevent yourself from experiencing a dangerous incident like these two scenarios.
Stay Light on Personal Belongings
Don’t bring too many personal items with you whenever you are at the properties. This will leave potential criminals/thieves more inclined to steal your belongings. Instead, just keep items with you that are absolutely essential. Jewelry and electronics are some of the most common personal items that are stolen by thieves.
Don’t Overshare Personal Information
Identity theft is out there and very real, even if you might not have experienced it firsthand before. Identity theft occurs when someone uses another form of someone else’s personal identifying information, like their name, identifying number, or credit card number, without consent.
Be careful not to share too personal information such as the following:
- Phone number
- Family members’ names
- Car information
- Work history
- Credit status
- Social security numbers
- Birth date
- School names
- Passport information
- Loan numbers
- Credit/debit card numbers
- PIN numbers
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Realtor Safety Course
The Putting Realtor Safety First: Safety Strategies for the Modern Realtor course is designed to instill safety awareness and habits so that real estate professionals, clients, and customers know how to avoid dangerous situations and avoid any harm during the practice of their profession.
What’s covered in the course?:
- Risk considerations in the brokerage of real estate.
- Safety systems and tools.
- Safety protocol for showing properties and listing appointments.
- Understanding physical and instinctual response to threats or attacks.
- Conceal and carry considerations.
- Data security for your business and your clients.
- Protecting personal and electronic information.
Carry a Weapon
In some instances, having a weapon on you for self defense can make the difference between life and death. The most effective self defense weapons are those that will help you in case of a violent attack.
Common self defense weapons:
- Pepper Spray
- Personal Alarms
- Stun Guns and Tasers
- Tactical Whips
- Steel Batons
- Tactical Pen
- Baseball Bats
- Emergency Whistles
Personal Safety Apps are designed for you to communicate with others that you may need help when in a dangerous situation. These apps can provide you with some solidarity, direct communication, and access to help when you are in some sort of emergency. It is important to test the app before relying on it, especially if you’re interested in using a personal safety app that shares your location information with individuals close to you and/or police in the case of an emergency. Unfortunately, during tests that are run through many of these apps, several did not send the correct location information. This is an obvious problem because it can result in the difference between life and death in certain situations. Make sure to test out the app before you know it will provide safety service. Calling 911 right away may be the most efficient option if you’re looking to get any kind of help when you’re in an emergency.
When you call, make sure that you are providing as much information about your location as you can. Some apps provide resources based on your state, county, zip code, or GPS location. If the app isn’t providing resources that are somewhere nearby, call the National Domestic Violence Hotline (800-799-7233 / (TTY) 800-787-3224) or a state/county hotline to see if there are any additional resources closer to you. Some of the apps tested didn’t always come up with the closest programs that were available.
All in All
Take this time during the month of September to learn more about what you can do to protect yourself from potential dangerous situations as a real estate agent. Visit the National Association of Realtors website for more information!
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