September is REALTOR® Safety Month, but agent safety should be a consideration all year round. According to the National Association of REALTORS®, over 40% of real estate agents have experienced a situation that made them feel unsafe, most often during showings or when meeting a client at a property for the first time (2021 Member Safety Report). In a recent interview with Carl Carter, Jr., REALTOR® and founder of the Beverly Carter Foundation, he echoed need for ongoing awareness and safety protocols for those in the real estate industry.
Carl started the Beverly Carter Foundation in January 2017 in response to the tragic death of his mother, Beverly Carter, a REALTOR® on September 25, 2014. “My mother was besieged by two people posing as clients who lured her to a property with the intention of kidnapping her and holding her for ransom because they perceived her to be this wealthy real estate professional,” said Carter. “When their plan didn’t go as they thought that it would, they made the tragic, awful decision to end her life.”
“Her story brought a national lens to the issue of agent safety. I began speaking out as a son who loved his mother and received such an outpouring of support,” said Carter. “During this time so many also shared their own stories about they, or someone they knew, had been victimized while working in real estate. And it’s all not just these horrific homicides and crimes. The victimization is all across the board. We frequently hear about things being stolen at open houses, but I most often hear about crimes against female agents by men who make unwanted advances.” Additionally, increases in online harassment and online stalking are on the rise due to real estate agents being such public salespeople, Said Carter, “This career lends itself to those types of behaviors, unfortunately.”
The foundation is solely dedicated to agent awareness of the dangers that exist in industries such as the real estate business, where people are working alone. “We see shifts in the way people are victimized,” remarked Carter. Changes in technology and the way people interact now has shifted and with it, more and more interactions happening online, has made it easier for harassment to take place. “Unfortunately, I would love to say that we are close to mission accomplished, but I think we still have our work cut out for us to help make the industry a safer place,” said Carter.
As a supplier of technology and solutions to the real estate industry, SentriLock is keenly aware of the need for safety, security, and data privacy. Understanding the need to take steps to protect yourself both inside and outside of the work environment is pivotal for staying safe. “The industry has done a pretty good job of addressing the issue of safety,” said Carter, “but I feel we have a long way to go to ensure agents stay safe and don’t let their guard down. I think we need to continue to raise awareness about safety issue and make sure that everyone, realtors and the general public, are aware of the risks involved in our job. Additionally, associations can assist members through keeping this issue at the forefront and not just highlighting during the month of September.”
From our conversation with Carter, SentriLock has outlined a number of tips you can follow to keep yourself safe and avoid becoming the victim of a crime. Technology for realtors
- When first meeting with a client, have that meeting in a public place and avoid secluded areas.
- Stop working with strangers. Before you have any business dealings, show a property, list a property, before you are alone with someone, be sure to strip away that anonymity. Apps such as Forewarn® allow you to do a background check giving you information prior to face-to-face meeting.
- Ensure your technology is updated and use it. The SentriKey® Real Estate app provided agents with a feature that will automatically and discreetly alert an emergency contact when they do not feel safe or if the contact cannot confirm an agent’s safety.
- Wherever possible, do not work alone, particularly during open houses where you are vulnerable to strangers.
- Do a pulse check on your online space. Agents are public figures and frequently their online activity is 100% public. It is easy to lose site of the fact that anyone can see those posts about a new car, vacation, etc., framing people’s perceptions, which could lead to an agent being victimized.
- Be sure someone knows your schedule and locations and check in frequently.
- Follow your instincts. If the situation feels uncomfortable or you are fearful, leave or reach out to your emergency contact.
- Use tools and apps where you know your data and your client data is secure. With SentriLock, you can be assured that your private data is never shared or used.
- Have a plan for what to do if something goes wrong.
While Carter sees immense progress being made in the industry, he feels there is always more that can be done. Agent safety is an important consideration that should be taken all year round. By taking some simple precautions cautions and using tools from Sentrilock, agents can help keep themselves safe while working in any environment.