REALTORS employ technology, training and instincts to reduce chances of becoming crime victims
Although not singled out on USA Today's list of 25 most dangerous jobs in America, real estate brokers face potentially unsafe situations every day. A vivid example occurred last weekend when a broker sustained serious injuries when he was assaulted during an open house in Snohomish County.
Industry groups are quick to circulate alerts and cautionary reminders when such incidents occur. "Safety education is a priority at the national, state, and local levels," said Russell Hokanson, CEO at Seattle King County REALTORS®.
"Our safety programs are centered on knowledge, awareness, and empowerment in hopes of preventing any members from joining the four percent of Realtors who have been crime victims," Hokanson stated. One resource his organization provides to members is a regularly scheduled three-hour real estate self defense course taught by a certified hand-to-hand combat instructor.
The description for that course cites a few alarming statistics to underscore the importance of taking precautions:
- Since 2003, on average, 74 real estate professionals have been murdered on the job annually in the U.S.
- A total of 153 real estate professionals reported being the victims of sexual assault in the U.S. in 2011.
Hokanson said the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR) conducts annual research that helps in the development of safety resources and strategies. That latest study revealed that nearly 40 percent of members have participated in a self-defense class, and of those participants, 71 percent indicated they feel more prepared for unknown situations after taking the course.
NAR's resources include apps for mobile devices, products such as pepper spray, safety webinars, articles, videos, and weekly tips, as well as a safety and security toolkit for Realtor use with their clients.
Matt Deasy, president of Windermere Real Estate/East, keeps a 22-page safety guidebook in his desk, in honor of Mike Emert, a friend and colleague who was murdered at a house showing in January 2001. That traffic loss inspired the formation of the Real Estate Safety Council, publishers of the safety booklet. Deasy said his six-office Windermere company promotes use of the tips and other resources every September during Realtor safety month.
The nonprofit Safety Council is tasked with improving safety in the workplace and helping Realtors avoid potentially dangerous environments. Council leaders include representatives from Washington Realtors, Seattle King County REALTORS®, Northwest Multiple Listing Service, the King County Sheriff's Office, and the State Department of Licensing.
In addition to the booklet, the Safety Council provides forms for real estate offices with protocols and tips for minimizing risks, monthly posters on different "Be on the Safe Side" themes, a website dedicated to safety, and promotional support for NAR's annual observance of Realtor Safety Month during September.
Deasy acknowledged many of the tips and tools are common sense recommendations. He believes preparation and trusting instincts are critical parts of any individual's safety strategy, adding, "Broker-owners are committed to working with our association leaders in raising awareness of security measures, creating a year-round culture of 'safety first,' and bringing down the crime victims statistics for real estate professionals."
Seattle King County REALTORS® is a trade association of approximately 7,000 real estate brokers who serve clients throughout the Puget Sound area. Its goals include promoting ethical business practices and supporting policies that preserve and expand real property rights and housing affordability. Based in Bellevue, SKCR is a founding member of the National Association of REALTORS®, the largest professional trade association in the country, comprised of 1.2 million members.
The term REALTOR® is a registered collective membership mark that identifies a real estate professional who is a member of the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS® and subscribes to its strict Code of Ethics.