Lessons Every Worker Can Take from Realtor Safety Month

September 2023 marks the 20th anniversary of the National Association of Realtors’ (NAR) REALTOR® Safety Month. With more than 1,5 million members, the NAR is the largest trade association in the United States, and it has extensive experience working with real estate professionals, law enforcement and government officials to improve on-the-job safety.

Lessons Every Worker Can Take from Realtor Safety MonthIt should surprise no one that real estate brokers, appraisers, salespeople and property managers are victims of violent crime, with 23% reporting that they feared for their safety, or the safety of their personal information, in the 2022 NAR Member Safety Residential Report. That is nearly 1 in 4 individuals who felt threatened on the job,

Safety Month exists to raise awareness of the common dangers faced by these professionals, who often meet with people alone, in remote locations and in empty buildings. Those situations are not unique to the real estate industry. Safety Month guidelines from the NAR are valuable for any worker who interacts with the public, particularly those who visit clients at home or in remote locations, including delivery drivers, rideshare drivers, plumbers, electricians and salespeople.

Understanding and Assessing Risk at Work

Safety Month was created to encourage workers to think about the risks they face on the job and the best ways to manage them. In assessing risk, it can be helpful to think about what motivates criminals and how they choose their victims.

Most criminals seek financial gain and use manipulation, harassment, threats or, if all else fails, violence to get what they want from you. There are some cases where an individual seeks to inflict some kind of personal harm on someone else, but these cases are far rarer than robberies or muggings. You are most likely to be a victim of monetary or property theft on the job.

Criminals prefer easy targets in situations that they can control, away from others. How you present yourself, both in person and online, and how you protect yourself on the job contribute to a criminal’s assessment of your vulnerability. Making yourself a difficult target and limiting the chances for a dangerous encounter will protect you from the majority of criminals.

Here are some practical steps you can take to make criminals think twice about targeting you.

  1. Be mindful of what you share online. Your online profile does more than advertise you to potential clients. It also lets criminals know how vulnerable you are. It is increasingly common for criminals to research their targets online and plan a robbery ahead of time. If you follow good practices for cyber security, which include limiting what you share, regularly changing passwords and enabling two-factor authentication, criminals may move on from you to someone who appears to be an easier target. Personal phone numbers, personal emails and daily schedules should never be shared online.
  2. Always meet new clients in your office or a public place. This will not work for service professionals, such as plumbers and electricians, but it is recommended for all other workers. If you are conducting an assessment or inspection in a remote area, ask to meet in public place nearby and travel to the location from there. This will give you a chance to assess any possible risk.
  3. Travel in pairs. Many service professionals do this with new clients. Bringing someone else reduces risk but does not eliminate it. If you feel that you will be outnumbered by a group of criminals, leave the area.
  4. Ask for a preliminary video conference. Service professionals can ask a potential customer to show them the problem. Real estate professionals and appraisers can ask for a quick video tour of the property. Criminals will not agree to this, either because there is no real problem or because they do not have access to the property.
  5. Keep a second phone exclusively for business use. Carry it along with a personal phone wherever you go. Be sure to check coverage maps when selecting a second phone, so that you can maintain signal wherever you go. In the worst-case scenario, you can throw your business phone at an attacker and run while keeping your personal phone to call for help.
  6. Be mindful of urgency. Criminals often use the pretext of immediate need, or the threat of a lost opportunity, to lure victims into situations they would otherwise avoid. They may contact you late in the day, over the weekend or on a holiday and tell you that you must immediately come to a location to win their business. If you attempt to slow the process down, either by scheduling an appointment the next day or asking for a video tour, criminals will either give up on you or demand that you come anyway. Never let the promise of business overcome your personal safety rules.
  7. Be aware of individuals who lurk. Keep a close eye on people who arrive late to an open house, insist on a showing very late in the day or who shadow you while you do your job. Some curiosity on the part of customers is normal; someone who follows you closely is a potential danger. In this situation, ask for some space so you can do your work or inform the customer that you need to check something outside.
  8. Take a self-defense class. The NAR reports that 40% of Realtors® have completed a self-defense class. Good classes teach the ability to spot dangerous situations as well as how to react to them. It is always better to avoid the confrontation entirely than to know how to handle it.
  9. Carry a self-defense tool. Service professionals will have a truck or van full of things that can be useful in an attack, but salespeople, appraisers and real estate professionals may have little more than a pen and a computer. The best self-defense measures are nonlethal and have an area of effect, such as pepper spray. You will be more likely to use them in a dangerous situation, and they can incapacitate several attackers at once. Be sure to check your state’s rules for licensing and training, as you could face criminal charges if you discharge pepper spray or bear spray, even in self defense.
  10. Report any threatening messages you receive. The 2022 NAR Member Safety Residential Report revealed that 30% of Realtors® who were targeted by criminals received a threatening voice mail, email or text message before the attack. Threatening messages should be taken very seriously by all professionals, and you should take extra precautions after receiving them. The individual who threatens ahead of time is more likely to be motivated by anger or revenge and is simply looking for a chance to attack. This individual wants to harm you, unlike the opportunist criminal who simply wants to steal your phone or money.

Safety Month Exists to Challenge Your Routine

All workers fall into rhythms and routines on the job. Even those who practice good personal and cyber security may get comfortable over time and relax their safety practices in pursuit of efficiency or out of a sense of confidence.

People like to think that they are aware of the risks they face. Some believe they have an instinct that lets them anticipate danger. These mental gaps can put you in threatening situations. Remember that criminals have one job: To find victims and steal from them. They spend all of their time looking for new tactics and honing strategies that succeed.

Safety Month provides an opportunity to think about the risks you face and to retrain yourself in practices that limit risk. This is a good time to review personal protocols, company protocols and cyber security practices. Should you need help with cyber security, or guidance on establishing safe working practices for your business, please contact us online or call us at 1-800-658-8311.


10 Tips to Not Ending Up A Dead Real Estate Agent

Yes that title is awful and yes you should be offended. Real estate agents often find themselves in dangerous situations. And for 20 years, I’ve been screaming this, doing something about it, and it keeps happening. And the real estate agents and industries response?

Thots and prayers. Thots and prayers. Thots and prayers. Thots and prayers.

How’s that workin’ for ya?

Sometimes you have to visit unsafe neighborhoods, you might have to come face to face with a vicious dog, or even have an unsavory character walk right into an open house.

In 2016, approximately 3% of all real estate agents reported that they were physically attacked when on the clock. Though this might seem like a small number, you have to consider that only about 2% of the entire population of the country are physically attacked each year. This means, of course, that if you are a real estate agent, your odds of assault are higher than the average person.

Remember, no one is immune to this. Here’s a brief first person account posted to Facebook about a real estate agents experience…and it could even be you:

Another reason why I like running my real estate business by referral: Went to meet a female seller today who contacted me on-line. She told me she would meet me at her property as it is an occupied rental. She was there and so were about four guys. Small, cramped house. She told me the tenant would take me around as he knew the house better than her…. immediately I knew something was off.

He takes me around the first floor then he’s showing me upstairs and another guy who wasn’t one of the four downstairs appears out of nowhere and stands behind me. I’m now seriously freaking out as instinct told me something was about to happen. I made my excuses quick and went back downstairs. I put aside my manners and took out my phone and while chatting briefly with the seller, I text my location to my team. Then I left.

My 5ft 100lb self would have been no match for them.

I realized mid-way through that 10 minute tour that no-one knew where I was, I had no idea who these people were and if this woman actually was who she said she was.

Point of the story: realtors please be extra vigilant when being in homes of strangers. I know it sounds obvious yet it’s not as we are simply doing ‘our job’ and we can’t do that if we don’t visit other people’s homes. This ended well yet it could have been a very different story for me today. Stay safe and trust your instinct.”

The seller was a female, and the seller said that she would meet the agent at the property, as it was a rental and currently occupied. When the agent arrived, she saw the seller along with four men in a small, cramped house. The seller, herself, would not give the agent a tour of this home; instead, she said one of the tenants would take her.


Almost instantly, the agent knew something was weird about this. One of the men took the agent to the second floor, and before she knew it, there was another man directly behind her…and this man was NOT one of the men she had seen downstairs.

This was a very scary situation, and though this story did not end in disaster, plenty of these situations, do. Be smart, stay vigilant, and trust your instincts when something seems off.

Here are 10 tips that you can use to keep yourself from ending up a dead real estate agent:

  1. Research – Before you meet with a potential buyer, make sure to do a little research. This might be as simple as doing a Google search on them, or you can create a questionnaire to get information from them.
  2. Get an ID – Ask for the ID of any potential buyer/seller before showing the home. You should be able to get a photo of their ID and keep it on your phone and text it to a colleague just in case. If they refuse, this is a red flag.
  3. Show During Daylight Hours – Only show a home during daylight hours.
  4. Bring a Buddy – Do you have an assistant, friend, or family member who wants to keep you safe? Bring them along. When showing a home, try to bring a buddy. Make sure the buyer/seller knows that this other person is coming.
  5. Know What You are Going Into – Do your best to get a lay of the land when going into a home for the first time. Ask if there is anyone else in the home, too.
  6. Stay Near Exits – Make sure when you are showing a home, or being shown and home, that you always have an eye on the exit. Also, don’t go into any area, such as a basement, where someone couldn’t hear you if you had to yell for help. Unless you bring a buddy, and allow the buyer to take a look on their own, if necessary.
  7. Don’t Let Your Guard Down – Any person who walks into a home is a potential “bad guy/gal.” Don’t let your guard down, even if they seem like they are an upstanding citizen.
  8. Advertise Smartly – When advertising, make sure to do so smartly. Make sure that people know that viewing the home is by appointment only and that you will be checking their ID before showing the home.
  9. Dress Appropriately – Don’t wear any expensive jewelry when showing a home, and make sure to dress in a professional manner. Wearing clothing that is revealing, for instance, can send the wrong message.
  10. Trust Your Gut – Finally, trust your gut. If something seems wrong, it probably is.

Robert Siciliano personal security and identity theft expert and speaker is the author of Identity Theft Privacy: Security Protection and Fraud Prevention: Your Guide to Protecting Yourself from Identity Theft and Computer Fraud. See him knock’em dead in this Security Awareness Training video.

Your Real Estate Agent May Have a Gun

If you are thinking of buying a house, and you start going to open houses, you might be surprised to learn an interesting fact: the real estate agent might be carrying a gun. Some of you reading this might have jumped to this article looking for a fight, because in M’erka guns are a controversial subject and why shouldn’t your real estate agent have a gun?

Real estate agents find themselves in precarious situations all of the time. They also might have to travel into neighborhoods that aren’t as safe as your typical bedroom communities. There are wayward dogs to contend with, random robberies, and the chance that a visitor to an open house has malicious thoughts. A real estate agent was killed in Maryland not too long ago and his killer stole his laptop and phone. He was killed for $2,000.00 in hardware by this shithead with the money on his face.

When you think about it this way, it’s no wonder that a real estate agents might feel the need to protect themselves.

The Statistics

Let’s look at some statistics: The National Association of Realtors released a report that states 25% of real estate agents who are male carry guns when on the job. Other real estate agents report that they carry other weapons, too, even if they don’t carry guns. Whether you are a fan of guns or not, you can certainly see why some Realtors feel the need to protect themselves.

The fact that 25% of male Realtors carry a gun is only the tip of the iceberg. The NAR report also says that more than half of all Realtors, both male and female, carry a weapon of some type to every showing. Here’s a brief synopsis:

  • Pepper Spray – 27% of female Realtors and 5% of male Realtors
  • Guns – 12% of female Realtors and 25% of male Realtors
  • Pocket Knife – 5% of female Realtors and 11% of male Realtors
  • Taser – 7% of female Realtors and 2% of male Realtors
  • Baton or Club – 3% of female Realtors and 3% of male Realtors
  • Noisemaker – 3% of female Realtors and 0% of male Realtors

Why are Realtors Afraid?

So, why are so many Realtors afraid enough to carry a weapon? First, there is the fact that approximately 3% of Realtors report being physically attacked when on the job in 2016. Though may that seem like a low number to some (too high for me), you have to understand that the overall rate in the country is about 2%, which means Realtors have a higher chance of being physically assaulted when compared with the average US citizen.

The reasons real estate agents feel the need to protect themselves is even more clear. In fact, many Realtors report that they are fearful of going to work each day. An astounding 44% of female Realtors told the NAR that they were worried about going to open houses in model homes and vacant lots.

Here’s some more stats:

  • 44% of female Realtors were afraid at some point in 2017 when on the job
  • 25% of male Realtors were afraid at some point in 2017 when on the job
  • 38% of all Realtors were afraid when in a small town
  • 35% of all Realtors were afraid when in a rural area
  • 39% of all Realtors were afraid when in an urban area
  • 40% of all Realtors were afraid when in a suburb

Knowing this, it’s certainly not surprising that a Realtor would carry a gun. HOWEVER, the problem with all this gun slinging is most people, regardless of their profession aren’t properly trained to “fight” with a gun. That means being trained to use a firearm under duress. I’m not talking about gun safety or target shooting, I’m talking about if you are being attacked, do you know how to respond with a gun if someone is coming after you? So to my Real Estate Agent friends and all others, seek out “Stress Response Training” and Firearm and get properly trained.

Robert Siciliano personal security and identity theft expert and speaker is the author of Identity Theft Privacy: Security Protection and Fraud Prevention: Your Guide to Protecting Yourself from Identity Theft and Computer Fraud. See him knock’em dead in this Security Awareness Training video.

Murder is a Reminder for Real Estate Agent Safety

911 calls are always chilling, but the one that came from a model home in Maryland recently was extremely distressing.

Instead of the caller speaking into the phone, all the 911 operator heard was heavy breathing. The operator asked what was wrong but got no response…then, a far-off voice said, “Where is the money? Who are you talking to?” This call, which was just made public, lead police to a man who was shot to death and, eventually, to the man accused of his murder.

The body of Steven B. Wilson, a real estate professional, was found in the home, and the suspect, 18-year-old Dillon Augustyniak, was charged with several crimes including murder, theft, armed robbery and the use of a firearm in a violent crime.

Steven B. Wilson Maryland Agent Death

Steven Wilson,

At this time, Timothy J. Altomare, the Anne Arundel Police Chief, says that he believes robbery was the motive and that the suspect had taken the victim’s laptop and cell phone. Though it is not known how Augustyniak entered the model home, police also said that he only lived about a half mile from the scene.

Local authorities believe that Wilson was placed the 911 call after being shot by teenager Dillon Nicholas Augustyniak. When the operator heard the voice from the background, presumably Augustyniak’s, police and an ambulance were dispatched. There was security footage from the scene that shows the suspect holding a long gun. It was also revealed that Augustyniak had not only stolen Wilson’s cellphone but had given it to another person.

Witnesses also say that Augustyniak was trying to sell his gun, which they believe is the same one that he used to shoot Wilson.

Dillon Nicholas Augustyniak,

Dillon Augustyniak,

Police later found an identical firearm in Augustyniak’s home. They also found Wilson’s laptop and cellphone. Augustyniak was taken into custody and is now off the streets, but this does open the opportunity for discussion about real estate agent safety.

It is imperative that agents remain vigilant at all times although there are no specific threats towards them. Though this crime might have been a crime of opportunity, it is certainly not uncommon for criminals to target open houses and other real estate events.

For agents out there, you might want to start thinking seriously about your surroundings when showing houses, and come up with a plan to protect yourself if necessary. This type of crime isn’t extremely common, but it does happen; since most real estate agents work alone, it is important to know what you are up against.

More information here on protection as a real estate agent.