Ohio REALTORS® “REALTOR® Safety Program”
3 Hours CE
Developed in partnership with NAR’s REALTOR® Safety Program, this online three-hour course teaches real estate professionals how to limit risk and increase safety for themselves and their clients. Students will learn how to assess potential risks and develop safety protocols for client meetings, open houses, showings, online interactions, and other business activities. The course will guide students through strategies for data security, including protecting personal and electronic information for real estate professionals and the clients they serve. As a practical resource, this course offers easy-to-remember strategies for responding to threats and attacks and when facing potentially dangerous situations.
2019 REALTOR Member Safety Report
Click here to review the NAR 2019 Member Safety Report. Here are some highlights:
- 33% of REALTORS® experienced a situation that made them fear for their personal safety or safety of their personal information.
- The typical REALTOR® reported feeling unsafe less than once a year (54%) in terms of personal safety, but unsafe in terms of personal information every few months or more often (61%).
- 5% of REALTORS® said they had been a victim of a crime while working as a real estate professional.
- 44% of members choose to carry self-defense weapons.
- 35% of men and 49% of women carry a self-defense weapon or tool.
- 53% of members use a smartphone safety app to track whereabouts and alert colleagues in case of an emergency.
How to Prepare a Home For a Safe Showing
If the property you are showing is your listing, spending a little time introducing yourself to the neighbors and checking out the neighborhood is an excellent strategy for getting additional business, however it is also an extremely valuable safety strategy.
While introducing yourself to the neighbors take the time to find out the following information:
- Is there a neighborhood watch? How active is it?
- Are there any law enforcement officers living on the block?
- Is it an active neighborhood? Do the neighbors know and socialize with one another?
This is all important information that you could use in an initial conversation to not only impress a prospect, but also deter a possible predator or opportunistic thief.
Additionally, look for any abandoned houses in the immediate area. Even if the house you are showing is not abandoned, neighborhoods with abandoned houses may be more attractive to someone intending to commit a crime.
Predators Vs. Thieves
Motive is an essential part of any crime. Most crimes committed against Real Estate agents have one of two motives: Profit and Power.
How Predators Work
Typically an agent that has been a victim of a crime has been targeted by the criminal who committed the crime. Having a basic understanding of behavioral patterns will help you to make calm reasoned decisions should you ever find yourself in the midst of a crime.
• Very Rare
• Very Dangerous
• Typically commit violent crimes such as rape or murder
• All crimes are premeditated
• Typical Motive is Power
• Theft or kidnapping for ransom is how they earn a living or fund an addiction
• Much more common than Violent Predators
• Typically non-violent unless resisted
• Typically commit theft, either from agent or items at the property
• Will likely target the property, will target an agent if profitable
• Crimes are almost always premeditated
• Uncommon in crimes against agents
• Almost always a crime of property, usually theft of item in the home
• Did not come to the appointment with the intent to steal
• A low risk, high reward opportunity may trigger the theft
In addition to the violent, professional and opportunistic types of criminals there are two additional types of individuals you may run into that are worth mentioning; and in both cases the meeting is premeditated, however the crime (if it occurs) is not.
- Individual has specifically targeted you as a result of an obsession
• Is likely having fantasies about you, typically romantic in nature
• Will typically exhibit stalking behavior
• Fantasizing about you and stalking you provides a “high”, meeting you takes the “high” to the next level.
- Will likely come across as more interested in you than the property
- Individual has chosen you at random
• Social interaction is the motivation for the meeting
• Will likely be socially awkward
• The meeting will likely be uncomfortable, but appropriate
- Very rarely results in any type of crime
What is the timeline of a crime?
If you understand all the steps involved in the timeline of a crime then you can take steps to deter or prevent the crime from happening in the first place.
- Initial Focus
- Superficial research
- Personal research
- Choose a site
- Devise a plan and isolate the victim
- Stage setting
Social Media Safety Tips
In today’s day and age, social media is an important marketing tool for the real estate agent. Unfortunately, it is also an important tool for predators and those who stalk. Remember, if you catch the attention of a predatory or obsessive individual, your best chance of having them lose their interest is to give them little or no material of interest to them.
Social Media Do’s
• Have separate personal and professional pages
• Eliminate or Abbreviate your last name on your personal pages
• Use different images on your personal and professional pages
• Periodically, use Google© to search for yourself to see how difficult it is to find your personal pages
• Use the social media site’s security to help ensure your personal site information is hidden to all who are not your direct friend or contact
Social Media Don’ts
• Don’t use location tracking
• Don’t post your habits (i.e. “I love this coffee shop, I come here every day”)
• Don’t post information that could be used to identify your children’s school, spouse’s workplace, etc.
The Neighborhood and the Property
Learning as much as possible about a property and neighborhood is an important part of the sales process, however it is also an important step in assessing the risk of an appointment as well as deterring a possible predator.
If the property you are showing is your listing, spending a little time introducing yourself to the neighbors and checking out the neighborhood is an excellent strategy for getting additional business, however it is also an extremely valuable safety strategy. While introducing yourself to neighbors take the time to find out the following information:
- Is there a neighborhood watch? How active is it?
- Are there any law enforcement officers living on the block?
- Is it an active neighborhood? Do the neighbors know and socialize with one another?
This is all important information that you can use in an initial conversation with a prospect to not only impress a legitimate prospect, but also deter a possible predator or opportunistic thief.
Additionally, look for any abandon houses in the immediate area. Even if the house you are showing is not abandoned, neighborhoods with abandoned houses may be more attractive to someone intending to commit a crime.
Just as you take the time to learn about the property and evaluate it so you can market and price it correctly, you can do the same to determine the risk level of the property:
- Vacancy – Is the property vacant? A vacant property will increase risk
- Cell Signal – Do you have a strong cell signal? If the signal is weak or non-existent ALWAYS BRING SOMEONE WITH YOU ON AN APPOINTMENT!
- Exterior Lighting – Is the exterior of the house well lit?
- Interior Lighting – Is the interior of the house well lit?
- Windows – Are there plenty of windows? Do they provide an unobstructed view from the outside of the house to the inside and vice versa? Ideally, you’ll want to make sure that you and the prospect are always in view of the outside.
- Stories – How many stories does the house have? One-story houses are the safest because they generally have the best escape paths.
- Garage – Does the house have a garage? Is it attached? Can you open the door easily? The existence of a garage can increase risk if it’s attached and the garage door is closed.
- Basement – Does the house have a basement? Basements are a huge risk, and if a predator has targeted you there is a good chance that a basement will be a factor in choosing the house in which to commit the crime.
Active Listening helps us uncover red flags that indicate if we should take someone on an appointment.
What is active listening?
- Pay full attention
- Focus on the prospects’ needs and wants, not your own
- Open-ended, probing and clarifying questions:
Ask why and what questions
Ask them to clarify ambiguous terms
“peel the onion to look for inconsistencies”
Watch this short video to learn how to use the best sales tool in the world, active listening, to help determine red flags prior to meeting with a prospect.
Do you know how to identify a couple who are stealing during a showing: Yes, it does happen. Watch the video to learn how.
Identifying Thieves- Dust Check, Alarm Pictures and Odd Questions
Reducing the Risk of Being Targeted Safer Headshots
Authoritative Vs. Subservient
Marketing Information Professional vs. Personal
Again, being mindful of the language you use is important. A legitimate buyer doesn’t care or want to know about your personal life, your family, where you live, where you shop or where your favorite coffee shop is. They care about their family and where they are going to live, shop, etc.
Safer Social Media
In today’s day and age social media is an important marketing tool for the real estate agent. Unfortunately, it is also an important tool for predators and those who stalk. Remember, if an agent catches the attention of a predatory or obsessive individual, their best chance of having them lose their interest is to give the predator little or no material of interest on which to fantasize or “feed the high”. The more personal information a predator can get on a target, the more he will fantasize about the target and the higher the likelihood that he will continue to progress through his offender cycle and eventually commit the crime.
Using Active Listening to Look For “Red Flags”
If a predator has targeted an agent and the predator does not lose interest, then the predator will eventually execute his plan to get the agent to be alone with him at the property. This will involve a phone call, and it is in this call that the agent has the opportunity to reveal “red flags” and raise deterrents to the predator. Additionally, after the initial call and before the meeting, there are specific techniques that can be taught to agents that will improve the rate at which they take people with them on appointments.
The “Office and Driver’s License” Myth
How often do you meet a prospect at the office prior to an appointment?
Contradictory to popular belief, meeting at the office and getting a copy of the driver’s license doesn’t deter a predator. Getting a drivers license may actually play into a predator’s plans by helping to put you at ease.
Always meet at a 3rd party location, use active listening to find their specific needs and possible red flags, and stay vigilant while showing the property.
The Training Play
During the initial call or follow-up, the agent will find the “Training Play” a useful tool in assessing the prospect. The Training Play is simple: during the call the agent mentions that the office has asked him/her to help train a new agent and he will be joining them on the appointment. The prospect’s reaction to that news may provide the agent with valuable information. The agent may even describe the new agent “You’ll really like Eric. He’s a great guy, he used to be a pro football player and he’s always telling stories”. If the agent chooses not to bring someone with him/her on the appointment, he/she can simply mention that the other agent had something come up or he’s on his way.
Using Property Info to Deter a Predator
How often do you as an agent research the neighborhood you will be bringing your prospect to? It’s good practice to meet neighbors and be knowledgeable of the neighborhood so you can use property and neighborhood information to look for red flags that your prospect may be dangerous.
Watch this short video for what neighborhood information may help keep you selling safely!
|Using different ways to “sniff out” red flags could keep you from falling victim to a predator. Predators are attracted to weakness and vulnerability, so how do you establish dominance when first speaking with a prospect without being impolite? One Way: Use the “Meet Time” to establish power and control.
Watch this short video to see why you shouldn’t apologize for selecting your schedule.
Preparing the Home Part 1
Creating Maximum Visibility
Preparing the home has two purposes, to maximize visibility and to prepare escape paths should they become needed. The reason for maximizing visibility is to make it more difficult for a predator to get the agent isolated where he/she can’t be seen or heard, thereby removing the opportunity to make an attack without making a legitimate prospect uncomfortable.
The Four Times You Should Always Take Someone With You
- When you have an uncomfortable feeling
- The property is vacant
- No or poor cell phone coverage at the property
- Haven’t had a sale in a while
Watch this short video to see why these are important factors when deciding to take someone with you on an appointment.
Maximizing Your Visibility at the Showing
While inside the home, there are some guidelines the agent should follow to help keep him/herself safe. It is important to remember that the ultimate goal is to make the situation unattractive to a predator while not making a legitimate prospect feel uncomfortable.
Every home is different, so the agent may have to adjust some of the following practices to meet the layout of the home and his/her particular sales style.
When at all possible the agent should be sure to position him/herself in such a way that he/she is clearly visible from the outside of the house (effectively removing the opportunity). If a prospect is looking to assault the agent, he will not want to do it where it can be witnessed.
Taking the High Ground
There are several subtle tricks that real estate agents can use to psychologically “turn off” a predator who’s posing as a prospect. We’ve talked about a few of them over the last few months–everything from maintaining control of the showing time to a phone technique you can use to screen prospects.
This week, we’re letting you in on a simple secret that can demonstrate to predators that you’re no agent to mess with. That secret? Taking the high ground… literally.
Watch the video below to learn:
- How standing slightly above your prospect unconsciously signals your dominance to them
- Where to find slightly elevated surfaces to stand on when greeting prospects at a listing or public place
- Why this simple act works as a “buzzkill” to potentially dangerous prospects
- Why legitimate prospects won’t be affected by this technique–so you don’t have to worry about alienating them
The no Influence Sales Strategy
One of the greatest challenges for agents, especially new agents, is setting boundaries without making a legitimate prospect uncomfortable. Basically, agents don’t need to be told don’t go into the basement, they know to not go into the basement. The reason agents go into the basement is that they are afraid of jeopardizing a sale because they don’t want to make the prospect uncomfortable and/or offend them. What agents need to be taught is how to not go into the basement without alienating a legitimate prospect.
The key to not alienating a legitimate prospect is setting expectations up front. For example: “The house has a finished basement, and during the showing you are more than welcome to explore it. I’ll be right at the top of the stairs to answer any questions you may have”. By using an authoritative but friendly tone the agent will not offend a legitimate prospect and will not set him/herself up for an uncomfortable situation where they are telling a prospect as they are walking towards the basement that he/she won’t be going into the basement. Additionally, setting expectations upfront establishes power and control and makes the agent less attractive to a predator.
Are the Feet in Focus?
Let’s talk about safe spaces-and, no, we don’t mean that kind of safe space.
In this case, a “safe space” is a healthy amount of distance that you should keep between you and prospects during a showing. As we know, a certain amount of distance makes good safety sense. But how close is too close–and how can you tell if you’re far enough away to reduce your risk of being attacked by a predator posing as a prospect?
In this week’s Safe Selling episode, find out a quick and discreet way to make sure you’re staying a safe distance away from a client. Watch the video below to learn more!
Why Bedrooms are a Danger Zone During Showings
As an agent, you’ve heard it a hundred times: don’t go into the basement or attic during a showing because you can easily get trapped and assaulted by unsavory prospects.
While that seems like a no-brainer, there’s another place in the house that you need to be cautious about–and for very similar reasons. That place? Bedrooms!
In this week’s Safe Selling video, we break down why bedrooms are a danger zone for agents during a showing. Watch the video below to learn:
- The two major reasons that bedrooms are unsafe for agents
- Why bedrooms are ideal for carrying out an attack
- What to do when a client has a question about a bedroom
- Where to safely stand when a client is viewing a bedroom
Never Turn Your Back on a Client
Never turn your back on a client… and we mean that literally. To prevent finding yourself in a vulnerable situation with a prospect, we know to never physically turn away from them. But what should you do in times where that seems inevitable–like opening a lockbox or door?
In this week’s Safe Selling video, we talk about just that. Watch the video below to learn:
- Precisely how to stand so that you can open a lockbox while still being able to see the client
- How to open a door and walk through so that your back is never to the client
How to come off as warm and welcoming when opening door or lockboxes, rather than awkward or standoffish.
Easy Ways to Navigate Stairs
We’re going to bust another agent safety myth today: Despite what you may have been told, NEVER let a prospect go all the way up a flight of stairs before you do.
Why? Because you’ll lose sight of them, and then a predator posing as a prospect can hide around a corner in preparation for attacking you.
So what’s a better alternative? Find out in this week’s Safe Selling video. Watch the clip below to learn:
- The ideal distance to keep between you and a prospect when climbing stairs
- One trick to keeping prospects in sight even when they turn a corner
- Why the handrail is your best tool in protecting yourself
- The move you need to make to evade an attack from above
Dealing with Outbuildings
It’s one of the simplest, yet most crucial of safety rules to follow when showing a home: Stay out of outbuildings!
Even though plenty of properties have structures like detached garages and sheds–and even though many buyers will be interested in seeing them–NEVER go in.
So what should an agent do instead? Check out this week’s Safe Selling video to find out! Watch the video below to learn:
- Why outbuildings are a hazard for agents and an opportunity for predators
- How to physically position yourself when showing outbuildings
- What to say to clients when they want to see an outside structure
Reading a Predator
Throughout this video series, we’ve shown you how to deter predators, but what happens when you realize the person you’re with actually IS a predator? And what are the signs that tell you it’s time to exit the house you’re showing and get to safety?
Watch this video to find out the subtle, physical signs that a predator is gearing up for an attack.
Reading a Predator Part 2
How to Show a Vacant Property Safely Part 1
Vacant properties, while convenient to show, present a host of safety issues for real estate agents.
First among those concerns, according to Real Safe Agent CEO Lee Goldstein, is the potential presence of squatters. In this week’s episode of “Real Answers,” a video series on real estate safety issues, Goldstein shows us how to deal with vacant homes in general and squatters in particular.
Watch the video below to learn:
• What to do before you enter a vacant listing
• Why it’s important to take accompaniment when previewing or showing vacant properties
• And more!
Dealing With a Squatter Part 1
Watch the video to learn:
- Why you should treat them like the homeowner to avoid confrontation;
- A sample script for starting a conversation with them;
- What NOT to say to avoid aggravating a squatter
- The physical signs that hint a squatter may escalate the situation;
No matter how considerate your approach, sometimes a squatter may want to confront you anyway.
Dealing With a Squatter Part 2
So the home you’re showing has a squatter, and the squatter not only won’t leave the property, but the situation seems to be headed toward a confrontation.
What can you do de-escalate the situation? Watch this week’s episode of “Real Answers” to find out:
- The body language to use to show squatters that you’re not a threat
- Why you should validate the squatters feelings, even if you don’t agree with them
- A sample script to use to talk down an agitated squatter
Once you’ve calmed the squatter and de-escalated the situation, it’s time to take the next step. What’s that? Find out in next week’s episode of Real Answers!
Office Safety in the MLS, Association and Brokerage
For weeks, we’ve been sharing strategies that agents can use when faced with an agitated squatter. But what happens when the agitated person is a member of the public–and they’re in your office?
In this week’s episode of Real Answers, brokerages, MLSs and associations will learn what NOT to do when an upset individual enters their office and makes a scene or starts a confrontation. This episode is the first in a series of four that looks at how to handle this potentially dangerous scenario.
Office Safety in the MLS, Association and Brokerage Part 2
When an agitated visitor comes into your office, it’s better to be proactive than reactive. If you can identify an angry person before as they approach, you can prepare yourself to de-escalate the situation–and keep you and those in your office safe.
How can you do that? In this week’s episode of “Real Answers,” we’ll show you exactly what to look for. Watch the video above to learn:
– The physical signs of an agitated person
– Why you need to lead the de-escalation process, not the visitor
– The body language to display to better calm a person–and the physical stances to NEVER take in a tense situation
Want to learn more? Check out part one of this series, where we showed you what NOT to do when an angry person visits your brokerage, association, or MLS office.
De-escalating an Agitated Person for Office Staff Part 3 of 4
When an agitated visitor comes into your office, stay calm. De-escalate the situation simply by letting the agitated person vent and validate them. As they vent, they will calm down and be more rational.
De-escalating an Agitated Person for Office Staff Part 4 of 4
Watch the video to learn:
- How to guide an agitated person to a resolution by offering them options
- Why it’s important to stress the consequences of each option
- Why respect and validation are crucial—and why ultimatums never work
- Sample scripts for offering options and validating their choice
Navigating Stairs… the Right Way
Navigating stairs can be tricky. You don’t want to follow so close that a prospect can turn and attack, nor do you want to be so far behind that you don’t know where the prospect went once he got upstairs. Watch this video to learn how to stay safe while navigating stairs.
Preparing and Showing Part 1 – Lights, Windows, Doors
Preparing and Showing Part 2 – Blocking Part 1
Preparing and Showing Part 3- Blocking Part 2
Opening a Lockbox and Door
Never turn your back to a client…. Always know where your client is at…. Be aware of your surroundings… We hear it all the time, and it’s important to do all of this, however, do you know how to open a lockbox and/or door without turning your back to a client? Click on the video above and watch Jason Ralston with Conway Real Estate show us how to open a lockbox and a door safely, without turning his back on a client.
Detecting Thieves Part 1
Is a prospective buyer using you to case a home?
Yes, it happens. Thieves will use you to case a house, get the information they need and come back later. The most useful information they need is the alarm… watch the video to see how a thief can get what they need to know about the alarm in the house you’re showing.
Detecting Thieves Part 2
The Husband and Wife Play
Are a husband and wife previewing a house actually stealing?
How can you tell? One stays with you and the other goes off to look around, is one distracting you while the other steals? Watch the video to learn how to detect these types of thieves.
Detecting Thieves Part 3
Windows, Doors and the Dust Check
What is that client doing?
Are they checking for dust when they run their finger along the window? Are they tired when they’re leaning against the door? No, most likely they are setting themselves up to come back later.