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As a former New York City police sergeant who survived the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, REALTORĀ® David Legaz has a unique passion for how to keep his peers safe.

“Criminal behavioral therapists are reporting a spike in crime due to the stress of COVID-19,” he says, adding that, particularly in this environment, all REALTORSĀ® need to “be more aware.”

Legaz has four scenarios that he believes warrant REALTORSĀ® always bringing a “buddy” to alleviate safety concerns:

– If the property is vacant
– If there is poor cellphone coverage
– If you have a gut feeling before a showing
– If you haven’t closed a deal in a while

“There are certain things we (should) teach that will remove weakness, subservience and vulnerability, as these attract a predator,” he says. “If you haven’t closed a deal in a while, you may push through that sixth sense. If you bring a buddy in those four situations, I think it’s more doable.”

In 2019, Legaz took his concerns about REALTORĀ® safety and elevated it as a project while participating in the National Association of REALTORSĀ® (NAR) Leadership Academy. Because NAR believes in the importance of emphasizing safety, leadership adopted the idea, and last year, the inaugural REALTORĀ® Safety Advisory Committee began its work.

The committee is made up of one member from each state REALTORĀ® Association’s Leadership Team. Legaz serves as its chairman.

“We’re in the process of revamping the safety website and curriculum. We’re also creating a brokerage toolkit,” he says. “We believe the brokerage has the biggest impact on [REALTORSĀ®’ ] behaviors, habits and attitudes. It’s at the brokerage level where we need to bring a change of behavior and a cultural change.”

The toolkit being considered by the committee would include a video series, with short safety features that can be shown in local meetings.

Building that cultural change could be as simple as taking five minutes in every sales meeting to show a safety video from the toolkit, or giving a REALTORĀ® kudos for a safety-related action, Legaz says.

“These are big goals, but we’re putting the road map out there,” he says. “We want the cultural and behavioral change to start asking ‘where did you get the lead from and is it a vacant property?'”

Having a three-way agreement between NAR, the state associations and local associations strengthens the advisory committee’s efforts to shift the safety culture among REALTORSĀ®, says Legaz. “If we practice it and teach it, the state and local associations can use it. It’s reinforcing each other,” he explains.

“I’ve had the opportunity to interview REALTORĀ® victims and many of them had that sixth sense and still pushed through, and then they were victimized,” says Legaz. “We really have to listen to that gut feeling.”

Visit www.nar.realtor/safety to access more information and resources.

Janelle Brevard is chief storyteller for the National Association of REALTORSĀ®.

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