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The REALTOR® Safety Network Mobilizes 1.3 Million Members in the Face of Danger 

When a New Jersey-based real estate executive’s teenage son went missing last year, a frantic and widespread search was ignited both on the ground and online in order to retrieve any shred of information that might lead to the boy’s whereabouts.

Thanks to the efforts of law enforcement and countless members of the community, combined with the rapid-fire reach of social media, this particular story had a happy ending, as the missing child returned safely to his home. But in the midst of this trauma, an important idea emerged: What if the more than one million members of the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR) could be mobilized in the face of such a threat?

“With 1.3 million members on the ground, we thought, why don’t we do something to mobilize people when we have an active situation?” recalls NAR CEO Bob Goldberg. “Why don’t we use all our eyeballs to possibly prevent a tragedy?”

And with that seed, the idea for the REALTOR® Safety Network was planted, with the program officially launching this past March. A longtime advocate and supporter of safety, NAR has always provided copious training programs, tools, apps and other resources for its members. However, the approach with the Network is different—this time, the members themselves are the conduits of safety.

Through the REALTOR® Safety Network, NAR will deploy REALTOR® Safety Alerts via social media to all members whenever a physical or cyberthreat to REALTORS® warrants national attention. Members will report threats by completing a brief form on the REALTOR® Safety Network website; dedicated staff will review the threat in order to determine its veracity. Threats that would warrant a national safety alert include:

  • A REALTOR® or the immediate family member of a REALTOR® goes missing.
  • The NAR association name or the names of its programs are being used fraudulently to attempt to collect money or information from REALTORS® or others.
  • A physical threat to REALTORS® warrants national attention.

If a threat does not meet the criteria for a national alert, the appropriate local association will be informed.

According to Goldberg, the REALTOR® Safety Network takes it cue from other alert systems, like the Amber alert or the programs in place on today’s college campuses. When a threat is imminent and real, state and local REALTOR® associations can work with local law enforcement to help prevent tragedies before they happen. “When you see a threat that’s real, we have the ability to rally people and do something about it,” says Goldberg.

As Goldberg explains, the REALTOR® Safety Network utilizes the membership’s ability to communicate and safeguard each other in the critical mission of real estate. “We’re all in this together,” he says. “This national program is another way of exposing more members to the importance of safety. I applaud the state and local associations that are already doing this, and I applaud the brokerages that have stepped up and developed their own approach to safety. We have to keep that awareness top of mind every single day.”

The program is also designed to protect against the growing risk of financial threats.

“While the REALTOR® Safety Network is about personal safety, it’s about other types of risk mitigation, as well,” Goldberg explains. “Whether it’s someone impersonating NAR or others committing wire fraud, this type of crime happens all the time.”

For Goldberg, the REALTOR® Safety Network is an important evolution in NAR’s ongoing safety efforts.

“It’s not necessarily that there’s more risk; there are just more situations that we all hear about,” he explains. “We’ve been pumping the safety issue for years, and since the Beverly Carter tragedy and others, there are even more products and services being offered for members.”

One such product is the SentriSmart app from SentriLock, Silver Level sponsors of the Beverly Carter Foundation. The foundation, which is committed to agent safety, was named after REALTOR® Beverly Carter who was tragically murdered in 2014.

“Agent safety is extremely important to SentriLock, and we take it very seriously,” says SentriLock Marketing Manager Lee Hunter. “The SentriSmart app, which is used in conjunction with our ultra-secure SentriLock lockbox, has an agent safety feature that gives agents an extra layer of protection during home showings.”

According to Hunter, when an agent approaches a home with a customer and accesses the key compartment of the SentriLock lockbox to gain access, the app automatically sends the agent a text message to see whether he or she feels safe. By simply clicking a button, agents choose to either continue to receive periodic safety checks during the showing if they feel uneasy, or they can discontinue status checks. If at any time the agent is unresponsive to the safety check messages, an emergency alert, which includes the agent’s location, is sent to a previously designated emergency contact.

Additionally, thanks to the lockbox’s Bluetooth interface, access to the key for a listed home is strictly monitored and limited. You can’t get to the key without permission, and there is a record of who is entering a home, when they enter, and how long they stay.

While such products and technologies may seem extreme, they come with the territory of being a real estate professional.

“We’re in the type of profession where you’re interacting with the public, and you have to know how to go through all the different steps of the process, like the open house, without putting yourself at risk,” says Goldberg.

Members of NAR have a range of ways to protect themselves and mitigate risk.

“There’s no one right answer. It’s an individual choice,” says Goldberg. “The greatest benefit we can bring our members is to help look out for their welfare. We don’t want to see these tragedies happen again.

“I want every one of our members to take that extra step, whatever it needs to be, to protect themselves,” adds Goldberg. “Don’t be overly paranoid, but do the simple things, even if it takes a little bit longer. I want to make sure every member gets to go home at night and enjoy their family and do what’s important to them.”

For more information, please visit nar.realtor/safety/realtor-safety-network.

Maria Patterson is RISMedia’s executive editor. Email her your real estate news ideas at maria@rismedia.com.

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