How Leaders Create a Culture of Safety

August 12, 2015

REALTOR® safety is often boiled down to measures individual agents should take in the field. But a more institutional approach to safety needs to be adopted by the real estate industry, and brokers, managers, and state and local associations need to get involved in developing and instilling a culture of safety.

That was the message National Association of REALTORS® President Chris Polychron imparted to attendees at NAR's Leadership Summit in Chicago on Tuesday. "If brokers would have [safety] meetings not just in REALTOR® Safety Month in September but every week, we could reach more agents," he said. "I don't want another death on my watch."

Leaders of three associations that have been rocked by recent attacks against members offered their solutions for how to prioritize safety and help real estate professionals protect themselves in the field. Miki Bass, CEO of the Arkansas REALTORS® Association, spoke of the effect real estate agent Beverly Carter's death has had on members there. Carter was found dead days after being kidnapped from a showing at a vacant home outside Little Rock nearly a year ago. Michelle Lind, CEO of the Arizona Association of REALTORS®, said real estate agent Sidney Cranston Jr. of Kingman, Ariz., is still missing almost two months after he disappeared from a vacant home he was showing to a prospective client. David Bennett, CEO of the Pinellas REALTOR® Organization in Tampa Bay, Fla., recalled recent sexual assaults against agents in the area.

Here are ways these associations are addressing REALTOR® safety:

  • Creating new resources: Bass says the Arkansas association put together a safety advisory panel in the wake of Carter's death to continually review current protocols and make suggestions for new ways it can reach members about safety education. The association has produced 12 new safety videos that are available to anyone who visits its safety webpage. ARA has also put in place two new safety programs. The Beverly Carter Safety-Certified Office program awards offices who show their commitment to REALTOR® Safety through various policies with a special recognition and marketing materials to promote their safety culture. The REALTOR® Safe Harbor program is a partnership involving several businesses that have agreed to serve as a safe public place for real estate professionals to meet their clients. The businesses also agree to take clients' information and transfer it to the agent's real estate office.
  • A better communications plan: The Arizona association has developed a robust plan to get the word out about safety to its members, Lind says. AAR uses its social channels and website to post breaking news updates about threats to members' safety, which worked well last year when a mysterious caller with a foot fetish was targeting female agents around the state. AAR also sends targeted texts to members, who are divided into six areas in the state, to keep them informed about local safety concerns.
  • Working overtime: Recognizing that many safety issues occur outside of normal business hours, the Pinellas REALTOR® Organization set up a task force to develop methods of reaching members after hours and on weekends. PRO also does robocalls to its members to deliver safety information or warn of developing threats in the area.

Bob Goldberg, NAR senior vice president of marketing, also announced new safety initiatives the national association will officially unveil in September, which is REALTOR® Safety Month. NAR will host a Safety Webinar Summit on Sept. 9, which will include five experts giving tips on various topics related to REALTOR® safety. Registration for the webinar is free.

NAR will also release The Little Red Book: Rules to Live by for REALTORS®, which will be a companion to The Little Blue Book. The new version will expand upon ways REALTORS® can update their own safety protocols.

Goldberg encouraged attendees to share their local associations’ safety programs with the larger REALTOR® community on NAR’s safety webpage by e-mailing

—By Graham Wood, REALTOR® Magazine