The dialogue concerning REALTOR® safety—ongoing and unabated in the year since the death of Arkansas agent Beverly Carter —has brought to light the many risks real estate practitioners face in the field. But the conversation, says Charles Oppler, 2015 Vice President of the National Association of REALTORS®, appears long overdue.
“We took everything we did for granted in this business,” said Oppler, presenting “The Safety Challenge” to attendees at RISMedia’s Real Estate CEO Exchange earlier this month. “Many of us have gone to conventions for years and haven’t thought twice about it.”
Oppler, who is also broker/owner of New Jersey-based Prominent Properties Sotheby’s International Realty, urged brokers to prioritize agent safety in and out of the office, relaying some of his company’s practices at the CEO Exchange Networking Breakfast.
“Do you have a way of addressing the safety issue in your company?” Oppler asked. “Are you always in front of your agents?”
Protocols in effect at Oppler’s firm include a weekly safety tip distributed by newsletter; hands-on safety training for agents, particularly millennials and those who speak English as a second language; and a two-people-per-open-house policy—the latter enacted in response to a sobering statistic.
“Sixty percent of agents feel uncomfortable at open houses,” said Oppler. “Think about it: if you hold the same open house every week, and it’s a vacant property, doesn’t that give someone an opportunity to see that you’re by yourself?”
Without question, there’s safety in numbers. According to a recent RISMedia survey, one of the top three safety precautions REALTORS® take when holding an open house is to host with another agent. Other preventative measures cited in the survey include planning several escape routes in advance, programming speed dial emergency numbers, requesting police presence and carrying a weapon.
Above all, awareness is key. Brokers have a responsibility to place safety front and center, says Oppler.
“There’s just no excuse for not making safety part of your regimen when operating your business.”
To learn more about REALTOR® safety, including best practices for your real estate business, visit REALTOR.org/Safety.