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5 Important Tips for REALTOR Safety

Today’s Guest Blogging topic is: REALTOR Safety
With: Sonia Figueroa, BROKER @ Century 21 Affiliated 

My passion has always been about real estate especially helping those that don’t have a clue about what home buying is all about. I embarked on my real estate journey 13 years and still going strong as if it were just yesterday that I started.

I never thought about safety in my last 12 years but this last year my perspective completely changed. I was in 3 major life threatening incidents that nearly killed me, literally. All three of them happened while on the job and it made me think of how dangerous my job can be.

The first incident was being attacked by a pitbull that nearly chewed my leg off, the second was a drug deal gone wrong in a vacant building while I was showing it. I was heading up to the second floor when I had a gun pointed at me and lastly my real estate office was robbed while I was inside. They three teenagers took my purse and the receptionist belongings as well.

I finally had it and decided to choose my own destiny by getting my conceal and carry license. My story was featured on NBC and the Chicago Tribune.

Now I feel safe at all times, I know this is a big deal for many and some choose not to use a firearm. Just know that when it comes to your safety you should at least use something like pepper spray.

In the 2017 Realtors report, 25 percent of men and 44 percent of women said they had experienced a situation that made them fear for their personal safety or the safety of their personal information. Don’t let fear dictate your life.

 

Here are my 5 quick tips for realtor safety:

1. Be mindful of your environment

Be aware of your surroundings. We get carried away with our daily routines and never even know what’s around at times. Is there someone that looks suspicious in a car? While you are texting in your car who is next to your vehicle? How many people are watching you walk into a house? These are just some questions on why you should be mindful when showing a home especially going into a vacant house. Take a quick pause throughout your day and check out what’s around you. Don’t ever walk with your head down.

2. Comfort Level

As realtors we meet people for the very first time without knowing their background. If the first phone conversation you had with this person makes you uncomfortable do not meet them by yourself at the property. Ask that person to meet up with you a local coffee shop, at your office somewhere in a public place first.

While you are talking to this person take notice of unusual behaviors. Is he or she asking odd questions or lingering a little too long? Don’t be afraid of being impolite. Trust your gut if someone or something is making you uncomfortable.

If you must meet with client for the very first time at a property take another realtor or your broker with you. Let them know that for safety reasons we work in tandem.

If can’t take your broker with you or another teammate then its good practice for any uncomfortable situation, threatening or not, to have friend who knows where you are and knows you would only call if you needed help. Call your friend and say an agreed upon phrase that lets them know you need help before alerting the potential threat. They can then send help without alerting the threat that you are privy to the situation.

 

3. Daylight savings time- Schedule

Keep showings during the daytime when at all possible. As we change our clocks the day turns into night very quickly. Someone is less likely to try something during the day and people are more likely to witness any suspicious behavior. When possible, rearrange your schedule — if you know you are dealing with previous clients, schedule those appointments in the evening. Keep new clients and open houses during the daylight.

4. Safety Apps

If you are not the kind to get a firearm or pepper spray then at least have some safety apps on hand. Here are some that I recommend.

Watch Over Me – Watch Over Me greets you with a screen that presents two statements, ‘Watch Over Me While I…’ and ‘For…’, followed by two buttons. For each statement you fill in an action (‘walk home’, ‘walk to my car’, ‘take a cab’, ‘meet someone’, or add a new event), and a time frame (hours and minutes). Watch Video

bSafe – bSafe has some of the same features as Watch Over Me—for instance, it allows you to add contacts (it calls them Guardians) who can follow you when you’re on your way home. Watch Video

StaySafe – StaySafe is centered on a timer that you set when, for example, you go out for a run. If you don’t check in safely when your timer is up, the app notifies your contacts. StaySafe sends your GPS location via email or SMS, and you can add the details of your trip or event so your contacts know that they’re receiving an alert because, say, you haven’t checked in from your typical 7 p.m. jog. Watch Video

 

5. Methods to Defend Yourself

If you do find yourself in a scary situation, make sure you learn de-escalation techniques and implement them into the situation. These can include simple self-defense techniques to deter the threat and allow you time to get away. It can also mean not showing your anger or fear in a situation until you can alert someone to help.

These steps are so simple, but could be the tools to saving your own life when necessary. I know from experience that these situations are more common than you might think.

Aside from self defense classes, firearms and pepper spray there are other items that are not common to the public.

There are also cute kitty keychains are not toys, but are in fact a very serious defense weapon. The design has been around for years, but the technology has gotten better. They are now made of an ultra-tough plastic material that is very hard to break, which is exactly what you need should you ever have to use this device.

A personal alarm on a keychain can also be used as a panic alarm or medical alarm.

No one has the right to take away your feeling of safety in the workplace. For that matter, no one has the right to take away your desire to go out there and be the boss! By implementing this safety checklist, we can take back our business and our lives.

More about the Author:

Sonia Figueroa is a Broker in Chicago with Century 21 Affiliated. Sonia been in Real Estate for the last 12 years and loves every minute of it.  She loves helping people realize the dream of homeownership and prides her self on creating long lasting relationships with her clients. She was born and raised in Chicago earning a Bachelors Degree in CIS and an Associates Degree in Computer Science. She is the Queen of Facebook Live and uses her vast expertise on Social Media Marketing to grow her business. 

Contact Sonia @  773.308.5505 or you can send email her at Sonia@SeeSonia.com
Website: www.SeeSonia.com

Disclaimer: : The views, data, and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Mason-McDuffie Mortgage Corp.
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Realtor Safety

iStock_000000849284MediumRealtor safety when showing vacant properties has always been a concern. Recently there have been many stories published on the subject, but none more horrible than the kidnapping and death of Beverly Carter.  With safety now at the forefront, it is time for all firms to make use of available tools to help keep their agents safe.

We have listed some of those tools in this blog post.  You can also read a recent article from Inman here (http://www.inman.com/next/real-estate-agents-using-apps-wearable-tech-to-stay-safe/) which talks about some of the tools we list below.

Push to Alert – Smart Phone app for security at Open House or Private Showings. “Faster than calling 911 and triangulates location”.  If threatened Realtor can press assault icon on the smart phone which immediately dials 911 and locates home address.  Sends message in stealth mode and allows four seconds for user to cancel the alert.

Available for download in the iTunes store.

Guardly Safety App – Smart Phone app offers automatic connection with emergency services, real-time notification to designated people, real-time location tracking and an emergency beacon.

Download is free, a monthly subscription for most features is $1.99, with a one-year subscription of $19.99

Moby App – iPhone, Blackberry and Android (coming soon). Features include Tracking tool that allows you to reveal your location to select contacts.  App can be set to send your GPS location periodically to whomever you choose.  App will send messages at predetermined times that ask, “Are you OK?”.  If two questions go unanswered, the app will automatically notify the contacts you select that you failed to respond and provide your GPS location from smartphone.  Alert tool: with one touch of a button, you will be able to alert your contacts or emergency personnel if you need help.  Alert includes  your GPS location.

Available on iTunes

Real Alert – for iPhone and Android – App allows you to quickly alert your emergency contacts or police when you feel threatened as well as discreetly record “creep data”, key details about suspicious people you encounter.

Cost $1.99

Other Security Options

Secure Show – Starts by purchasing a verification, either singularly or in packs.  Whoever you wanted to verify is sent a verification link, their cellphone number is confirmed, and the prospect is walked through a process where they scan and upload their driver’s license, passport or state ID.  Secure Show verifies that the photo matches the ID, while a third-party company checks the ID against other databases.  It is not a criminal background check.

Once your identity and their identity are verified, both parties receive notifications with photos of each other and a special identifying code.

Normal Turnaround time is 30 minutes or less.

Wearable Devices:

Cuff – is a small device that fits into several cuff versions and also a necklace.  Billed as “Smart Jewelry”, cuff has features like phone notification and activity tracking. Cuff also has a built-in safety feature that, when pressed, sends out a message to designated friends and family with your location, as well as audio that the device picks up. Available for preorder and delivery in March 2015.