Let's All Open Doors for REALTOR® Safety

It takes a whole community to ensure safety. Here’s how lenders and title and escrow companies can get involved in the effort.

May 22, 2015

It happened again last month. A real estate agent took a call from a potential new client, went to the property for a showing, and was kidnapped at gunpoint.

Thankfully, she got away. But others aren’t so lucky.

Beverly Carter lost her life in a similar situation. So did Mike Emert, Vivian Martin, Sarah Anne Walker, Ashley Oakland, and Ann Nelson.

Enter: Open-Door Partners

If you’ve seen the open-door policy I proposed in REALTOR® Magazine and featured in the Chicago Tribune, you know the idea is simple. Real estate brokers should band together and let any REALTOR® from any company use their reception space to meet new clients and verify their identities.

Well, recently I’ve been thinking even bigger than just brokerage offices. Everyone in our industry should be partnering with us for safety. Title and escrow professionals, builders, and lenders—you regularly stop by our offices, and we’d like to stop by yours. You’d probably benefit from seeing real estate professionals in person more often. Let’s make that happen.

If every title/escrow company, lender, and brokerage across the country that agreed to let agents use their offices for safety check-ins with new clients was displayed on a web-based map, we’d have enormous coverage. Real estate professionals wouldn’t need to travel across town to meet a client in an inconvenient location. The temptation to show properties to unverified people would be greatly diminished.

“Meet Me Here First”

That’s the goal. We should feel comfortable telling every sign call, every Internet lead, every last-second showing request, “Meet me here first. It’s a new nationwide safety policy. And it’s only five minutes from the home.”

With a single web-based map displaying all of our offices together, real estate professionals could easily find safe meeting places on the go. They would be able to verify the person’s identity in a public business setting convenient to the property location. The technology is insignificant—it’s basically already built. In fact, I already built a prototype at MeetMeHereFirst.com

All We Need Now Are Our Open-Door Partners

Title/escrow companies, lenders, and other real estate industry vendors will benefit through this partnership. We want to advertise all of your offices as partners in safety. These offices alone would make for a massive database of locations.

Scattered throughout this article are quotes from real estate brokers who understand that now is the time to work together for the safety of the whole industry. Brokers themselves might have to swallow a bit of competitive pride to join the cause, but it would benefit their agents as well as grant them recruiting opportunities. Brokers work together often for common goals. Those of you that I saw in Washington for NAR’s Legislative Meetings understand that.

Stand Up and Show Your Support for REALTORS®

I’ve already been talking with lenders and title companies who love the idea. If you know a company leader who should be involved, please introduce us. Let’s do something great for this industry that will cost us little, and bring goodwill to all our businesses.

We want you as an open-door partner. Are you ready to step up for safety?

Sam DeBord

Sam DeBord is managing broker of Seattle Homes Group with Coldwell Banker Danforth, and 2016 president-elect of Seattle King Country REALTORS®. You can find his team at SeattleHome.com and SeattleCondo.com.

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