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How predators trick the most intelligent agents, make them vulnerable to assault

Predators use the same sales methods as you do, both effectively luring you in through a funnel system of questions. Fascinating.

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Getting people to say “yes” is the ultimate goal for any salesperson. Many sales trainers will recommend that you ask for a little “yes,” then build on that by getting more little “yeses.”

You could begin with a simple request, perhaps completing a simple questionnaire. By getting people to make a simple decision, or perform a small action, you can fairly easily establish a new psychological “commitment.”

Implementing the “foot-in-the-door method”

Once you have that initial commitment, no matter how small, building on that foundation and making ever increasing requests get surprisingly easy. This is called the “foot-in-the-door method,” an approach based on trust and consistency, and it’s effective.

To prove the point, a group of researchers back in the 1960s, called on a group of housewives, asking if they could answer a couple of simple questions about household products. Then, a couple of days later calling again, asking if they could send five employees to survey the contents of their kitchen cupboards. The research revealed that that twice as many answered “yes” if they had answered those simple questions in the first call.

We also find it much easier to say yes to those we have good feelings about and seem similar to us. In other words, we like them! This is why refusing to buy Tupperware from a friend or relative is almost impossible!

Guess what? Predators use these same tactics

Predators and sexual offenders in particular, work very hard to be likable and use the very same “foot in the door” techniques to troll for their next victim.

Just like sales professionals, the predator seek those little yeses, but this time for testing and probing, seeking clues as to your willingness to be directed and controlled.

“The man in the underground parking lot who approaches a woman as she puts groceries in the trunk of her car and offers assistance, may be a gentleman or he may be conducting an interview,” suggests Gavin De Becker, in his book The Gift of Fear. “The woman whose shoulders tense slightly, who looks intimidated and shyly says, ‘No, thanks, I think I’ve got it’ may be his victim.”

De Becker then suggests, “Conversely, the woman who turns toward him, raises her hands to The Stop position, and says directly, ‘I don’t want your help,’ is less likely to be his victim.”

You may not be able to spot their deception

Offenders are also professional liars, truly skillful at what they do because they have had plenty of practice over the years. They’ve lied to themselves and everyone else in their lives. According to most experts who work with sexual offenders, not only is their lying hard to detect, but it is often very convincing.

“Even the guilty liar probably won’t avert his gaze much, since liars know that everyone expects to be able to detect deception in this way,” observed Paul Ekman, an American psychologist who is a pioneer in the study of emotions. “Amazingly, people continue to be misled by liars skillful enough to not avert their gaze.”

“’Declining to hear no’ is a signal that someone is either seeking control or refusing to relinquish it. With strangers, even those with the best intentions; never, ever relent on the issue of no, because it sets the stage for more efforts to control,” said De Becker “If you let someone talk you out of the word no, you might as well wear a sign that reads: You are in charge.”

Using this be aware of potential problems:

Predators meaning you harm will seek to control the narrative. They will make some positive statements and seek small yeses to gain what they eventually want – to get you to a place where they feel safe enough to assault or rob you.

Obviously not every conversation is going to occur just like this following example, but that said, let’s look at this scenario:

Potential predator calls you from a cell phone and the conversation goes something like this:

  • From the street I like the house at 123 Main Street. Are you familiar with the neighborhood?
  • Are you available to show me this home?
  • I’m preapproved with XYZ bank. Will you bring the paperwork, as I might want to make an offer.
  • Then, the final question: I’m actually here in the neighborhood. Can we meet right now?

If you got this far and found yourself answering with a string of small yeses, you’d better be ready to redirect and assume control or the outcome may not be pretty.

The agent responds in kind:

  • Sure, I’d love to show you the home, but I need to swing by my office first to grab the keys, OK?
  • Would you please bring your pre-approval letter along?
  • I’d like to meet at the office first so we can review your pre-approval, OK?
  • Then, the final question: Before we can meet, please send me a copy of your photo ID – management likes to know just who we are with and where we will be, for the safety of everyone involved, should there be a problem.

A prospect’s reaction to this request is important. If the final question is met with lots of bluster and indignation, this could be a big red flag.

Take measures to protect yourself in the field

The “foot in the door” is a well known and effective sales tool, unless it’s misdirected by someone who means you harm. Never ever allow a strange prospect to take control. Be mindful that most predators are accomplished and very convincing liars.

Always take precautions. Don’t meet strange prospects at the property. Always meet at your office or a neutral location such as Starbucks.

Always ask for and verify the photo ID of strange prospects, preferably before you meet – that way you have a chance to review pertinent information.

You should bear in mind that several of those arrested and charged this year for assaulting real estate agents were convicted sex offenders who managed to insert themselves into the lives of real estate agents.

All the measures we have discussed here are preventative, so take appropriate precautions when you actually meet with strange prospects. Here are some suggestions.

Does your Broker have a safety policy for its agents? If not, why not? Visit the NAR site for more information on safety courses and keeping safe.

Disclosure: the author is founder of Verify Photo ID, an app that verifies prospects ID’s and checks against a national sex offender database.

Peter Toner is a third generation real estate agent who has been practicing for nearly two decades. He is the Founder of Verify Photo ID - a safety app that verifies the identity of strange prospects before you meet - in three simple steps; it includes a Safety Monitor with panic alerts.

Real Estate Brokerage

Brokerages rarely write an internal communication strategy, here’s why they should

(BUSINESS) Almost no real estate brokerages have an internal communication strategy, but they absolutely should.

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It’s still early enough in the year that you can start fresh, personally and professionally. Help your organization by taking into account what’s happened in recent history and where you want to go. From there, you will determine what steps are necessary to achieve your goals.

Writing an internal communication (IC) strategy can be the first step in mapping your goals and is virtually unused in the real estate industry. According to All Things IC, an “internal communication strategy is like a map, an outline of your organization’s journey. It’s the big picture of what you want to achieve.” This can be done by a brokerage, or an independent agent alike.

Great! So, where do you start? First, know what an IC strategy needs to address. This includes the where, how, what, and why.

Write down the current state of the company, then state where you’re heading, or where you’d like to be. Create a list of objectives to support this.

Then break into your “how.” Explain how you are going to get to where you want to be, as well as how long it will take and why.

You’ll then venture over to a “what” by outlining what is involved along the way to your goal. Then, throw in a little “why” by explaining why this approach is the best for the job.

Go back to “how” and tell how you’ll know when you’ve reached your destination. This part will require tangibles, measurements to support a change in reaching your goal.

Finally, give one more “what” and address what will happen if you don’t change the way you’re currently operating. If things are working for your organization, that’s great! But, there is always room for improvement.

For an internal communication strategy, it is important to include the following: a title, an issue/purpose, structure, executive summary, audience segmentation/stakeholder mapping, a timeline, channels, measurement, communication objective, approval process and responsibilities, key messages, and an appendix.

Now, what was missing from the initial inclusions was a “who.” So, who should be the one to write this document?

Well, it needs to be someone with a strong understanding and implementation for internal communications. This can be done internally by someone on staff who is an expert; or, it can be outsourced to an expert. Regardless of who writes it, make sure it is clear and concise for the audience at hand.

What is most important to remember is that writing an internal communication strategy is just half the battle. Your work is not done once this document is agreed upon by the leadership team. And finally, you must be willing to enforce what’s written on these pages and be ready to make the changes you’ve outlined.

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Real Estate Brokerage

COVID-19: Huge list of resources to quickly help you and your clients

(NEWS) NAR has compiled a comprehensive list of resources for Realtors, homeowners, and insights on how the stimulus bill will impact the industry.

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As the COVID-19 crisis continues to rattle the globe, many of us have far more questions than answers. Realtors are trying to figure out how to be socially responsible, stay healthy, and maintain their business.

The National Association of Realtors (NAR) has collected several resources to help you and your clients stay informed of industry happenings during these difficult times.

Click the following headlines for the full lists.

Resources for property owners

This guide collects resources curated by trusted sources like the American Land Title Association, bank regulators, and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau to provide property owners with guidance during the COVID-19 crisis. Some of the resources provided include:

  • A real-time list of county record office closures
  • Disaster recovery and business continuity plans
  • Information from major banking institutions regarding their policies and customer outreach
  • Information from mortgage insurers
  • Federal Housing Administration (FHA) foreclosure and eviction moratorium

Guidance on tech-driven alternatives to open houses

As more states head into lockdown or shelter-in-place situations, open houses are a no-go now and for the foreseeable future. While many are concerned about what this means for their business, there are options available as long as you are willing to get creative and embrace technology. In order to help facilitate this shift, the NAR has created a set of guidelines to help members navigate this situation in a way that is safe for them and their clients.

How stimulus recovery will affect the industry

A $2 trillion economic relief bill just passed the U.S. Senate and is expected to pass through the U.S. House and Presidential office without issue. The NAR has been hard at work to make sure that self-employed and independent contractors will see relief from this stimulus package.

What are Realtors doing to help their communities?

Realtors are a vital part of their communities; they know the neighborhoods and small business owners whom they see every day. During the COVID-19 crisis many realtors across the country are doing their part to help the most vulnerable people in their communities.

This is a constantly evolving situation as every state is being faced with tough decisions that affect the health of the citizens and economy. We encourage realtors to stay safe and continue checking resources as the situation progresses in their area.

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Real Estate Brokerage

Project Hatch: Advice directly from successful people

(BUSINESS) Project Hatch shares stories of major founders around the world in an effort to help others grow professionally and “found” their dreams.

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Even if we’re at the tip top of the professional food chain, there is always something that we can learn from those who came before us. Additionally, there is always something that can be learned from peers (or mentors if you’re continuing the career-ladder climb).

This is the intent of Project Hatch, which is designed to tell the stories of founders in order to inspire others who are looking to go down that path. “The best way to learn how to build a company is from those who have done it before,” according to Project Hatch’s official website. “Project Hatch features case studies and analysis from the view-point of founding teams.”

Examples of case studies include some current heavy hitters, such as Tyler Handley – founder of Inkbox, Alex Zaccaria – founder of Linktree, and David Ciccarelli – founder of Voices.com. Their stories include where they are and how they got there.

“So for us, the primary drivers of growth have typically been performance marketing and the associated word of mouth and the organic and return off that. So Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Snap and we’re experimenting with TicTok right now,” – Tyler Handley

“We created a solution to a problem that we thought was unique to us; but it turns out millions of other people had the same problem. One of the key moments of validation for us, was early on, when the platform was uploaded to Product Hunt,” – Alex Zaccaria

“Exactly two years ago, we raised $18 million USD from Morgan Stanley Expansion Capital out of San Francisco. As growth stage equity investors, they were attracted to a large and growing market for voice and audio products,” – David Ciccarelli

The case studies include four key areas that are broken down for major industries. These include: ecommerce, media, agency, and SaaS. With ecommerce, you can learn how to create scalable stores; with media, you can find out how media giants receive hundreds of millions of views on different social platforms; with agency, you can learn how to be more innovative in order to standout in today’s competitive market; and, SaaS offers the most passive form of online income when done correctly, so they feature those who have done it (and are making $600k per month!)

Project Hatch boasts over 15,000 monthly users, over 33,000 monthly page views, and 111 monthly interviews. The site also includes run downs of celebrities’ net worths (so, be sure to look through that if you want to feel bad about yourself).

This is a solid platform that offers something interesting for everyone at any point in their career. However, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that, since there is so much professional advice out there, don’t go overboard looking into so much of it that you forget to do your own work.

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