Your Security Is Our Priority

September is REALTOR® Safety Month. Learn tips for staying safe and other NAR priorities.

September 1, 2010

Real estate has had more than its share of sad endings. Ann Nelson, 71, of Cambridge, Wis., was killed while showing a home for sale. Troy Vanderstelt, 33, of Muskegon, Mich., was executed in his office by a disgruntled former client. Sarah Anne Walker, 40, of McKinney, Texas, and Cynthia Williams, 33, and Lori Brown, 21, of Atlanta, were killed while working in builders’ sales offices.

All these tragedies struck within the past decade. All the victims left behind loving families. It makes me angry to think about these crimes. But I think about them anyway because the lessons we learn from these senseless slayings can help us stay safe on the job. 

That’s the message we’re sending by designating September as REALTOR® Safety Month. There are three keys to staying safe on the job:

  • Know the dangers you face every day.
  • Be aware of your surroundings.
  • Empower yourself by being prepared for risky situations.

I encourage you to keep safety awareness a priority all year long. Visit our Safety Web site——and use the resources there as the basis for a safety education program in your office. You’ll find a growing list of materials, including safety videos, webinars, and a widget that you can post on your office Web site.

Although personal safety is in the spotlight this month, NAR is not putting aside any of the priorities needed to bring more security to real estate businesses affected by the housing downturn. On top of our list is doing all we can to make short sales happen within a reasonable time frame.

On Aug. 1, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac guidelines went into effect for the sale of homes under the government’s Home Affordable Foreclosure Alternatives program. The program is designed to expedite short sales for home owners who qualify for loan modifications but still can’t afford payments, don’t otherwise qualify, or would rather sell.

We’ve been in close contact with the secondary market agencies as they developed these guidelines, and we’re encouraged that they’ve provided clear guidance to mortgage servicers on important issues such as allowable closing costs and real estate commissions. 

Still, we’re frustrated with the gap between policy and reality. So since July, we’ve been holding meetings directly with the nation’s largest lenders, imploring them to ensure that HAFA short-sales guidelines are followed by their staffs.

Whether we’re showing property or trying to close a difficult sale, we can never be 100 percent certain of what lies ahead. We take business risks because of the rewards that come from helping our clients and customers achieve their goals. It’s good to know, as we go about our business, that an association with the strength of NAR has our back.

Vicki L. Cox Golder

Vicki L. Cox Golder was 2010 president of the National Association of REALTORS®.