PRESIDENT'S CORNER: Be Safe Out There

Ron Garafalo | October 2019

Happy October!

As we head into the month of October, let’s not forget the important lessons of September. I am guessing that you are thinking to yourself “what important lessons?” Maybe it’s that as Realtors we should always work in the most ethical and professional manner. How about we shouldn’t allow access to homes to our buyers without a confirmed appointment and never allow unaccompanied access? Maybe it’s that we should treat other Realtors with respect and call them back in a timely manner. Or is it that I should contribute to RPAC and join so many who do, to protect our industry and private property rights.

Yes, those are all very important, but that is not what I was thinking. September, if you weren’t aware was NAR’s Realtor Safety Month. Even though the month of September is over, thinking about your own safety and working in a safe manner is not something we should forget. Unfortunately, we work in an industry that makes us an easy target for those that are looking to commit a crime. As you all know, we take complete strangers into vacant homes, we host open houses and have many people (hopefully it is many) come tour the home. We go into dark basements with people we don’t know, hoping we can find the cord to turn on the light and the list goes on and on.

Last month, I, along with about 100 other members of HGAR had the opportunity to attend a session hosted by David Legaz, who who is NYSAR’s 2020 President-elect. He previously worked for the NYPD and is an expert on safety. He is also on the board of the Beverly Carter Foundation. During the session David gave many important ideas and tips about safety. Simple ideas that we often just don’t think about. After all, we are all anxious to accommodate our clients, and we often put them first, but that doesn’t mean we should forget about our own safety.

For example, how many of you meet your buyers at the office? I have been managing real estate offices for more than 15 years, and during that time, I have told all my agents that it is best to meet clients at the office. I’ve also told them to introduce their clients and customers to me, and I will ask them their name, what houses they are seeing etc. In all those years I will tell you that has happened only a handful of times. I have told my agents if you are worried about a showing, especially at night when the house is vacant, don’t go alone. Yet, we all do go alone so many times. I have told my agents to tell me the addresses of the houses they are going to, when they expect to be done and to call or text me when they are finished. Again, I have had very few do that.

Some of the ideas David had were to make sure your phone is charged, walk behind your clients, don’t wear expensive jewelry and don’t wear shoes that hinder you from running, have an office distress code, have a firm handshake as it is a sign of strength, avoid areas of a home where you can become trapped, check to see if there is anyone at a showing that shouldn’t be there, don’t park so your car can be blocked and don’t use an alluring or provocative photo in your marketing materials.

I am not a safety expert by any means. This month my hope for all of you is very simple. That hope is that even though Realtor Safety Month is over, you don’t forget to take the time to think about your own safety. There are many resources from NAR, NYSAR and HGAR, there is a feature on Homesnap that allows for safety timers and can allow your contacts to be notified if you are in danger.There are also classes on safety available throughout the year and there is of course your own common sense.

As we head into the last quarter of 2019, I wish you all continued success, continued happiness and remind all of you …. Be Safe.

Ron Garafalo
Ron Garafalo is 2019 President of the Hudson Gateway Association of Realtors, Inc