September kicks off the National Association of REALTORS'® "REALTOR® Safety Month," generating awareness among real estate professionals of the potentially dangerous situations facing them in the field. According to government data, there were over 25 million instances of property theft, identify theft or traffic fatalities in 2012 alone.
“Statistics like this are an unfortunate reality of today’s world,” says Bob Goldberg, senior vice president of Sales & Marketing, Business Development & Strategic Investments, Professional Development, Conventions at NAR. “Everyday situations like showing clients empty properties, driving on unfamiliar roads for a showing, even sharing personal information online can put a real estate practitioner in danger.”
Because safety concerns crop up so frequently, it’s important to consider every possible avenue for risks. Take preventative measures against property and identity theft by following these guidelines.
Guarding against identity theft should be a priority for agents, who, aside from listing contact information online, also access several portals and gadgets throughout the day. Avoid becoming a victim of identity theft by taking these steps:
• Shred documents
• Avoid logging on to public Wi-Fi
• Protect and switch out your passwords
• Install tracking devices on your phone, tablet or laptop
• Obtain cyber insurance
• Have access to a remote wiping system
• Demand security from third-party vendors
Showings and Open Houses
It’s never a good idea to go at it alone. At an open house or showing, always bring along a trusted friend or colleague to deter criminals.
“I have never held [an open house] without someone else also being present in the home at the same time,” notes Kelly Klein, broker/owner of Lifeguard Real Estate, Inc. in Santa Rosa Beach, Fla. “It can be an even safer atmosphere if you partner with a title company or mortgage lender.”
Agents can also mitigate risks by scoping out the location, remaining behind clients when walking through a home, urging homeowners to secure valuables, and checking all rooms and the backyard prior to locking up.
Learn more about REALTOR® Safety Month, strategies, resources and tools for brokers and agents here.
Suzanne De Vita is RISMedia’s Online Associate Editor and social butterfly. When she’s not blogging, she spends her time among barnyard animals, listening to The Temptations and devouring Cajun cuisine.