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RealtorThis past fall, REALTOR® safety became a national topic of interest with the disappearance and murder of Beverly Carter, a REALTOR® from Arkansas. Unfortunately, Carter is not the first real estate agent to be harmed while simply doing her job. As her story became a national headline, REALTORS® around the country started sharing their own experiences with danger. While REALTOR® safety may be a complex topic to discuss, it’s an important and ongoing conversation the real estate industry needs to have with its agents, from the national to the local level. The National Association of REALTORS®’ comprehensive REALTOR® Safety Program provides guidelines, resources and tools to help you start that conversation, and also outlines how REALTORS® can recognize and avoid potentially harmful situations.

The safety of REALTORS® has always been, and will continue to be, a top priority for NAR. As the real estate industry evolves, so do the resources REALTORS® need to stay safe, be smart and protect themselves. The REALTOR® Safety Program was established more than a decade ago and continues to expand, offering more resources for brokers and REALTORS®. Utilizing the tools offered through the REALTOR® Safety Program, here’s how you can continue the dialogue on REALTOR® safety with your agents by integrating traditional learning mechanisms with 21st century technology:

Update your office’s safety protocols. This may seem old-school, but your office’s safety protocols are your agent’s first line of defense. What is your office’s procedure for meeting with a new client? What information does the office need to have on record before an agent goes on a showing? Does the office have a code word agents can use to discreetly ask for help? And like any protocol, are there consequences for not adhering to them? Remind your agents and staff about the office’s safety protocol often, and reevaluate it annually.

Download a safety app. Today, we are more connected than ever thanks to smartphones, tablets and social media. Take advantage of this technology by downloading a safety app to your smartphone. With features like GPS tracking and silent alarms, these apps can call for help, even if you can’t.

Purchase a safety product. From personal alarms to jewelry with GPS tracking discreetly tucked inside, there are a variety of safety products available that can ward off attackers or silently contact the authorities. Encourage your agents to choose a product they are comfortable with, can quickly access, and easily fits into their personal and professional lives.

Educate your agents. E-learning is a popular form of educating students today, but sometimes, hosting a good, old-fashioned safety seminar in the office may be a powerful reminder for your agents to take safety seriously. Invite experts with various forms of safety knowledge, such as a law enforcement officer, a self-defense teacher, a fraud specialist or a cybercrime expert. Help your agents understand all the dangers that can occur when working in real estate. The more they know, the more they can do to protect themselves if the situation arises.

Before you implement office safety protocols or host a training seminar, NAR’s legal department has created a video that provides legal tips and best practices for brokerages to consider. Check out “Implementing Office Safety Measures: Legal Considerations,” available at www.realtor.org/Safety.

NAR’s REALTOR® Safety Program provides a list of smartphone safety apps, safety products and safety experts available for safety training presentations in the Resources for REALTORS® section of www.REALTOR.org/Safety. Through this program, you’ll also find articles, webinars, videos, office forms and more; everything you need to talk to your REALTORS® about safety is available in one convenient location.

Remember, safety starts with you. Let’s continue to work together in 2015 to keep our industry and those who work in it as safe as possible. For more information, visit www.realtor.org/Safety.

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