DENVER – September is National Realtor Safety Month. With the recent attack of an agent in Los Angeles, Adam Contos, the CEO of Denver-based RE/MAX has some important safety tips for agents.
“Our goal is to minimize the number of times real estate agents are victimized and their clients are victimized while they are out looking at houses as well,” Contos said.
Contos’ background in the military and with the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office gives him expertise on keeping people safe.
“I was a police officer. I taught police academy classes. I taught SWAT schools, sniper schools. And fundamentally, I was teaching police officers how to stay alive. Many of those same principles fit into real estate agent safety or, really, the public’s safety, for that matter,” he said.
Before he became CEO of RE/MAX, Contos trained agents across the country on how to prepare themselves to stay safe.
“It was really cool. I actually had agents coming up to me saying, ‘You helped me in this bad situation, I used some of those principles you were teaching’,” he said.
Contos shared tips that real estate agents can use to keep themselves safe on the job: Awareness, Avoidance, Deescalation and Response.
“Ultimately, the best way to prevent being a victim of a crime is to recognize that you’re entering a situation where you could become a victim and avoid that situation to begin with. We have our head in our device now and we don’t see the things going on around them. We want people to be a little more aware of what is going on around them, recognize potentially dangerous situations and do something about it,” he said.
Contos suggests paying attention to signs around you and don’t ignore those signs.
“Listen to your gut. Our gut instinct tells us a lot. It’s called a survival instinct. When we think there’s something wrong, there generally is. We just have to find it,” he said.
If you end up in a situation that becomes tense, how do you get out of that situation? Contos’ advice: do something.
“It’s fight or flight, how do you deal with it? You’re in it, you just can’t avoid it. Don’t stand by and become a victim, do something. Same if you are on an airplane and there is an emergency, they tell you, be aware, know what to do and do it,” he said.
Recently, a real estate agent was reportedly attacked in Commerce City. She pulled out a gun and fired at her attacker. Contos said it’s important to train and practice with whatever method you chose to use, and seek professional help.
“The more you can train your brain to think ahead of time to think about these situations and ‘What would I do if…,’ that’s what you’re going to reflect upon if you get into a bad situation occurs,” he said. “We’re not just being good real estate agents in our space, we are being good members of society by recognizing criminal activity or recognizing something is not the way it should be and helping each other.”
Rachel Edelman, an agent with RE/MAX Professionals of Cherry Creek, said she thinks about safety constantly.
“I am by myself for 99% of showings. So definitely when I am by myself and going into a stranger’s home, I am on high alert. I will text a family member and [say] ‘I’m here at this address, check on me in 15 minutes.’ I don’t do open houses by myself. I usually try to have a lender or an inspection company with me,” Edelman said.
She also said other agents post about their experiences on social media, which she finds helpful.
According to the National Association of Realtors 2019 Member Safety Report:
o 33% of realtors experienced a situation that made them fear for their personal safety or safety of their personal information.
o The typical realtor reported feeling unsafe less than once a year (54%) in terms of personal safety, but unsafe in terms of personal information every few months or more often (61%).
o 5% of realtors said they had been a victim of a crime while working as a real estate professional.
o 44% of members choose to carry self-defense weapons.
o 35% of men and 49% of women carry a self-defense weapon or tool.
o 53% of members use a smartphone safety app to track whereabouts and alert colleagues in case of an emergency.