Real estate agents all over the country are facing safety issues as they show properties or host open houses. In facing this reality, United Country Real Estate has made the safety of their agents, brokers and auctioneers a top priority by searching for added tools and tips to keep them out of harm’s way.
“We always think it won’t happen to us, but the truth is that it has and it can again,” says Richard Thompson, executive vice president of Sales for United Country. “We must be intentional about safety and do all you can to be aware every time. Our agents can be even more at risk due to the fact that we are selling property in rural and remote areas.”
Thompson says that United Country is working to keep their agents safe every day by recommending guidance and tools like an app called Forewarn, which lets users run soft background checks on prospective clients by entering a phone number. This app provides criminal history for the person, so you can determine if additional caution is necessary.
“The app is a great qualifying tool,” says Thompson. “If the app shows someone has a lot of instability or a violent past, we know we can refuse to meet them or take extra caution, but it can also be used to get a clearer picture of the person’s financial stability. Either way, it should never be used to replace existing procedure, but only as an additional precaution.”
Other basic steps Thompson recommends are for agents to use a code that they can text or call if they are ever in trouble or feel uncomfortable. That lets others know you need assistance right away. It actually came in handy in a situation that happened to an agent recently.
“A guy from out of state called to look at a property in a very remote location,” says Thompson. “When he found [out] the listing agent was a female agent he wanted to work with her. They met at the property and the agent started to feel uncomfortable, so she called her broker to ‘bring me the blue folder.’ That was the code for help now. Her broker came right away and removed her from the situation. We later found out the guy had weapons in his vehicle and had a plan to use them that day.”
The recent events that have been featured in the news about many real estate agents being assaulted, stalked and even killed while showing property has caused the United Country team to be even more on high alert. The company plans to highlight tools like the Forewarn app and a variety of ideas to support agents in the field needing guidance on safety.
“We are encouraging everyone to be intentional about safety,” says Thompson. “Tell someone where you are going and when and what time you will be done. Have a safety code or phrase. We can’t hide from the fact this is going on, but if we work together, we can try to prevent further occurrences from happening.”
For more information, please visit www.UnitedCountry.com.