The dialogue concerning REALTORÂ® safetyâ€”ongoing and unabated in the year since the death of Arkansas agent Beverly Carterâ€”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 REALTORSÂ®, appears long overdue.
â€śWe took everything we did for granted in this business,â€ť said Oppler, presenting â€śThe Safety Challengeâ€ť to attendees at RISMediaâ€™s Real Estate CEO Exchange earlier this month. â€śMany of us have gone to conventions for years and havenâ€™t thought twice about it.â€ť
Oppler, who is also broker/owner of New Jersey-based Prominent Properties Sothebyâ€™s International Realty, urged brokers to prioritize agent safety in and out of the office, relaying some of his companyâ€™s practices at the CEO Exchange Networking Breakfast.
â€śDo you have a way of addressing the safety issue in your company?â€ť Oppler asked. â€śAre you always in front of your agents?â€ť
Protocols in effect at Opplerâ€™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 policyâ€”the latter enacted in response to a sobering statistic.
â€śSixty percent of agents feel uncomfortable at open houses,â€ť said Oppler. â€śThink about it: if you hold the same open house every week, and itâ€™s a vacant property, doesnâ€™t that give someone an opportunity to see that youâ€™re by yourself?â€ť
Without question, thereâ€™s safety in numbers. According to a recent RISMedia survey, one of the top three safety precautions REALTORSÂ® 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.
â€śThereâ€™s just no excuse for not making safety part of your regimen when operating your business.â€ť
To learn more about REALTORÂ® safety, including best practices for your real estate business, visit REALTOR.org/Safety.