Consider a Tuneup on Your Safety Thinking

 Cori Lamont  |    September 07, 2017

Safety is a big and potentially intimidating discussion, especially for those who have an occupation that places them in more vulnerable situations. Let’s be honest: If we sat around all day and talked about all the scary things that could happen, we’d be building bunkers like Christopher Walken and Sissy Spacek in Blast from the Past, fearful of everything until they are in their newly created fallout shelter deep underground. 

Instead, you have chosen to be a REALTOR®, a professional who is constantly placed in potentially dangerous situations by the very nature of your work. You are consistently out with members of the public — some you know and some you don’t, you’re in properties you often are not familiar with, and you visit locations you don’t commonly go. The National Association of REALTORS® created a quick “56 Safety Tips for REALTORS®” guide that can be found at offering the “tenets of REALTOR® Safety: knowledge, awareness, and empowerment.”

This article is not serving to be the end-all, be-all of safety suggestions but rather an offering on ways to further your continued efforts to be smart, observant and prepared. The following suggestions are for you and your firm to individually or as a company consider, discuss or explore.

Take a self-defense class: I know, you’ve heard it before, but for any real estate professional and any person for that matter, it’s always a smart move to learn how to defend yourself. While I’ve heard it is technically correct, I don’t think anyone should rely on Sandra Bullock’s character in Miss Congeniality teaching the self-defense acronym SING as the only strategy. 

Make a self-defense class a bonding experience: go with your family, go with your friends or invite your neighbors — just make sure to go or book a person to go with you. Be creative and try making the class an opportunity to get others interested in self-defense while networking.

For example, invite clients and customers; potential customers or clients; or affiliate members such as title companies, lenders, home warranty companies, home inspectors or attorneys to attend the class. If you’ve taken a class before, take a refresher. 

Take a gun safety class: The WRA has no position on whether agents should arm themselves with guns, but if you are not comfortable with guns, taking a gun safety class may afford you the basic education, such as how the safety on a gun works.

Carry more than your phone: While having your phone and a safety app on your phone is a great start, you should also consider other alternative safety weapons. Whether it’s self-defense spray or a more lethal weapon, you may want to consider equipping yourself with more than just your phone. 

Try to avoid carrying medication, expensive or perceived expensive accessories and/or a lot of cash: Previous magazine articles have discussed the importance of having sellers prepare the property for open houses, including the importance of making sure they place their medication in a safe place to avoid anyone taking it. However, we haven’t really focused on reminding agents to avoid carrying medications. Agents are notoriously on the move and understandably may need to keep medications with them during the day. But before you leave the house, check your bag or your car to see if you have only the necessities or if you forgot to remove the prescription you picked up yesterday from the pharmacy. 

If you are one who enjoys a good accessory, I recommend following Coco Chanel’s recommendation when she discussed accessories: “Before you leave the house, look in the mirror and take at least one thing off.” Pare down the look if possible; sometimes it is difficult to know if that watch or ring, for instance, is real or fake.

See the following Wisconsin Real Estate Magazine articles about protecting your listings and sellers’ personal possessions:

Switch up the distress code: By 2017, every office or agent should have a phrase, word or code that alerts others that the agent is in danger. Unfortunately, there is a high probability that a good portion of those use some form of the term “red file.” We change our online passwords on a regular basis, so why should the code be any different? 

Watch your social media accounts and other personal information: Being a REALTOR® likely means high visibility on social media. However, there is a balance between professional visibility and personal visibility. Step back and evaluate — what do you want the public to know about you personally as opposed to professionally? 

Furthermore, this goes beyond social media. In conversation, be conscious of letting people know where you live, the names of your family members, and when you’re going on your next vacation.

Cori Lamont is Director of Corporate and Regulatory Affairs for the WRA.

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