State of the industry
September marks the National Association of Realtors’ Realtor Safety month and the industry is currently introspective about the topic, sharing tips and tricks of the trade. While it is important to prevent crime against real estate professionals, preparation is the best way to fine tune the gift of instinct. For the first annual Realtor Safety Report, we have teamed up with Moby and S.A.F.E. to investigate the rise in violence against real estate professionals. The real estate industry has lost some amazing people this year, and countless others have been assaulted; in conversation with leadership at Moby, we all felt that the actual crimes are not being analyzed in depth, rather associations are limited to sharing tips on heightening Realtor awareness.
In an effort to learn more about crimes committed against real estate professionals in the past year, AGBeat teamed up with Realtor safety expert Andrew Wooten, President of S.A.F.E. who said, “The past 12 months have been the most violent I have seen in twenty-six years working in the real estate industry. We’ve seen an increase in attacks, murders and suicides.”
Given Wooten’s note that violence is on the rise, and our mutual feeling with Moby that the why is not being investigated, we dug deeper to learn whether or not the crimes against Realtors had a common theme in an effort to discover something to look out for, something for Realtors to be aware of, for hope of a safer industry.
Our research did discover these minor commonalities:
- The majority of the attacks on Realtors in 2011 occurred in the afternoons on Thursday or Friday
- Nearly 30% of attack victims are men
- Most attacks did not occur inside major metro areas
- Guns are used roughly 50% of the time in attacks
- Robbery was the intention going into the attack but frequently resulted in murder
These commonalities were not enough to determine a trend, so we analyzed age, brokerage size, how long the agent had been licensed, the average days on market and price of where they were attacked, whether they were alone or not, how many assailants there were, the unemployment rate of the area, whether they knew their attacker or not, the attackers’ intentions and more.
What we found will frustrate some people. We ultimately discovered that there is no face of a standard victim, no face of a standard attacker, and no common theme between the many attacks. Some attacks were simply robberies, some were in luxury listings, others in foreclosures, some were sexual assaults in a basement, another was a woman attacked on a front porch by a client she already knew, and another was an apparent revenge kill. The only common threads between these attacks are (1) there is no common thread, everyone is equally vulnerable and (2) many lives have been altered this year as people have lost loved ones or have been attacked.
Why are Realtors a target?
Discussing the topic with many Realtors across America, the most common answer found to the question “why do you think there is an increase in violence against Realtors?” was that average consumers believe Realtors are wealthy, therefore, they are targeted. Although most agents are barely scraping by and many are having to choose between their cell phone bill and their used Lexus payment, faces on billboards look successful, so many Realtors believe they are vulnerable because agents are depicted as rich by media, movies, and the perpetual “it’s always a good time to buy/sell” smile on many Realtor faces.
What is the answer when there is no common thread between violent attacks? What do you do when you discover agents aren’t being attacked because they’re selling foreclosures, rather all types of properties? What do you do when you learn it’s not just women that are victimized and that someone can attack you even if they don’t have a weapon?
You prepare, you fine tune your gut instinct, and you learn everything you can about keeping yourself safe. Does that mean taking karate or using a buddy system? Possibly. Arm yourself with personal safety monitoring devices, they’ve become so inexpensive. Take lessons in self defense, especially from Realtor safety experts. Everyone is vulnerable, especially in a vacant home and leaving breadcrumbs behind to show someone “who dun it” won’t cut it, so agents should all be prepared in advance and trust their gut instinct when something is off.
Full 2011 Realtor Safety Report
The report analyzes sixteen assaults, half of which occurred in June and July of 2011, and sexual assaults are separated out.