Safety Tips & Tech for REALTORS®
September 28, 2021
Since REALTORS® encounter strangers every day as they show homes and host open houses, safety protocols are a wise investment of time and resources. Among those resources are devices and apps that take advantage of everyday technology like smartphones and GPS tracking.
REALTORS® find value in personal protection. The National Association of REALTORS® 2020 Member Safety Report revealed that 58% of members surveyed use a safety app to track their location and to signal for help. For even more protection, the survey found that 49% choose to carry self-defense weapons like pepper spray or firearms. The need for safety is not surprising since 31% of those surveyed feared for their safety while hosting an open house and, similarly, 31% felt fear during a showing.
Because fear is not conducive to performing at your best, here are some safety tips and tools to consider in ramping up your safety protocol:
Old School Common Sense
Smartphones and devices certainly offer an added measure of security for REALTORS®, but there’s nothing like old school common sense practices as a first-line of your safety measures. From NAR’s 56 Safety Tips for Realtors®, here are some basics.
Know Before You Show
When you have a new client, ask him/her to stop by your office and complete a Prospect Identification Form (find a copy online at www.nar.realtor/Safety). Also, photocopy their driver’s license and retain this information at your office. Be certain to properly discard this personal information when you no longer need it.
See the Light
Show properties before dark. If you are going to be working after hours, advise your associate or first-line supervisor of your schedule. If you must show a property after dark, turn on all lights as you go through, and don't lower any shades or draw curtains or blinds.
Always let someone know where you are going and when you will be back; leave the name and phone number of the client you are meeting and schedule a time for your office to call you to check in.
When showing a home, always have your prospect walk in front of you. Don’t lead them, but rather, direct them from a position slightly behind them. You can gesture for them to go ahead of you and say, for example, “The primary suite is in the back of the house.”
New Tools and Tech
Smartphones can be a lifeline for REALTORS® experiencing uncomfortable situations, surroundings or encounters. The NAR safety report found that 72% of respondents have a safety protocol and many incorporate the use of smartphones. But, NAR warns, “attackers can be smart, too, and that phone you want to use for calling 911 is the first thing they’ll confiscate. It won’t matter much if your colleagues or family can eventually use a find-my-phone app to locate your phone if it’s in the attacker’s hands instead of yours.” Instead, NAR recommends using a separate wearable device like a smartwatch. Though NAR does not endorse safety devices and apps, they have compiled a list of popular tools to add to your safety arsenal. Here are a few.
Your Own Devices
Katana Safety is a personal security system that attaches to your smartphone. It bypasses a locked screen by triggering a loud audible alarm or pushing a discreet silent panic button. The device alerts a response center and contacts appropriate emergency services with your GPS location.
ORA is a panic alarm button that pairs with your smartphone to alert your contacts. It can provide your GPS location and can make a backup call to 911.
PET (Personal Emergency Transmitter) uses a discreet emergency alert button to send a text message to up to 30 contacts including 911. The personalized information includes your GPS location.
Ripple Safety describes itself as the most discreet wearable device available. Working with your smartphone, Ripple connects you with a professional monitoring team.
V.ALRT can be carried discreetly in a pocket or a bag or worn as a bracelet or pendant. When pushed, the V.ALRT button pings your smartphone and sends personalized texts to three emergency contacts. These messages indicate that help is needed and also provide your GPS coordinates.
There’s an App for That
REALTORS® can prescreen clients with identity verification apps like Trust Stamp, Forewarn, People Smart and Kleard. The apps can verify criminal records, address history, and other adverse information like bankruptcies and liens. Kleard’s real-time verification is helpful for client identification at open houses and showings. Trust Stamp is available only to NAR members.
Homesnap Pro, ProTect, LifeLine Response and SafeShowings allow you to set alerts and a safety timer when showing a property to an unfamiliar client. If the timer expires or an alert is executed, a text message is sent to your emergency contacts and to the local 911.
SentriKey is an app that works specifically with the SentriLock lockbox system. A safety feature prompts an agent to confirm they are safe after using the app to open a lockbox. If there is no confirmation, designated emergency contacts are notified.
September is REALTOR® Safety Month and a perfect time for an assessment of your safety weak points and how to prepare for the scenarios you hope will never happen. For more Realtor® safety information and links to the devices and apps mentioned here, go to NAR’s REALTOR® Safety Program Resources.