Safety Best Practices for Real Estate Professionals
According to NAR, one-third of members have felt unsafe during an open house or a showing. However, real estate professionals can stay safe while working by taking proper precautions and understanding the legal considerations for implementing a safety plan. Idaho REALTORS® cares deeply about the safety of its members, which is why we want to bring this information to you as well as share free member benefits such as the SafeShowings Enterprise app.
REALTOR® safety is a top concern. According to the 2020 NAR Member Safety Report, one third of NAR members have felt unsafe during an open house or a showing. By taking proper safety precautions, including those I highlight in this video, real estate professionals can stay safe while they work.
First, create a personal safety plan that addresses common scenarios that place real estate professionals in potentially risky situations, such as meeting new clients, showing properties, or hosting an open house. For example, the safety plan could include practices such as driving separately from clients; arriving early to unlock doors and note escape routes; avoiding accompanying clients into basements, garages or attics; and letting someone know where you are and who you are with at all times. Include any office safety protocols in your safety plan, and be familiar with available safety tools and education provided by your brokerage.
If you choose to include self-defense spray, such as mace or pepper spray, in your safety plan, be familiar with and comply with all applicable regulations for the purchase, registration, and use of such sprays. These regulations vary widely; for example, Hawaii requires a license for pepper spray and limits the container size to a half-ounce, while Wisconsin limits the active ingredient in pepper spray to a 10 percent concentration and a two-ounce container.
Second, consider using available technology solutions to help keep you safe. At the touch of a button, web tools and smartphone apps can confirm a stranger’s identity, conduct instant background checks, and even send your GPS coordinates and alert contacts if you are in distress. Be aware of the terms and conditions and any limitations of the tools and apps you use. For example, an instant background check cannot be used for any discriminatory purpose or to make decisions about credit, tenant screening or for any other purpose that would require compliance with the Fair Credit Reporting Act.
Third, be sure to apply your safety practices evenly and never use any information obtained in a discriminatory manner. Consistently applying safety protocols with client interactions can help avoid legal liability, including under the fair housing laws, which protect individuals from discrimination in connection with the purchase or rental of housing.
Finally, immediately report any incidents to local law enforcement, and keep up to date on safety alerts through the REALTOR® Safety Network. The REALTOR® Safety Network issues alerts via social media about incidents of safety concern and emergencies warranting national attention, including physical threats to a REALTOR®’s safety or when a REALTOR® or their immediate family member goes missing. You can report an incident online using the REALTOR® Safety Alert Submission Form to help keep your colleagues informed about safety incidents.
Incorporating these practices into your daily business can help keep you and your fellow real estate professionals safer on the job. Learn more about the REALTOR® Safety Program and explore the resources available to you at nar.realtor/safety.
Thanks for watching this episode of Window to the Law.