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Buying a home is an exciting experience, but it can also be stressful, especially for first-time homebuyers. Not only do homebuyers need to find out whether they can afford the home of their dreams and qualify for a mortgage, but they also have to make sure the home they purchase is safe for their family.

“As REALTORS® observe REALTOR® Safety Month in September, we want to make sure our clients are safe, too. While REALTORS® take steps to ensure our client’s safety in their home search, it is ultimately up to the buyer to make sure the home they buy is safe and secure for their family,” says Alan Barbic, president of the Silicon Valley Association of REALTORS® (SILVAR).

Below are homebuyer safety tips shared by Barbic and SILVAR:

Find a REALTOR® you can trust
Since you will be working closely with a real estate agent, it’s essential to find someone you can trust, who understands your needs, who is knowledgeable about the transaction process and the area. Remember not all real estate agents are REALTORS®. The term “REALTOR®” is a trademark used by agents who are members of the National Association of REALTORS® and state and local associations like SILVAR. REALTORS® are held to a higher standard of conduct than other real estate licensees. REALTORS® must abide by a Code of Ethics and are committed to treat all parties to a transaction honestly.

Research the neighborhood
A home may look right, but the neighborhood could be wrong. Research neighborhoods in the area where you want to live. This is why it is important to find a REALTOR® familiar with the different neighborhoods in the area. Prioritize your preferences. Even if you don’t have school-age children, nearby schools could affect the value of the home. Check the home’s proximity to amenities like the grocery store, pharmacy, hospital, park, entertainment, police and fire departments. Drive around the neighborhood on different days and times to check street lighting, traffic and activity. Check local crime statistics. Talk to the neighbors and get a feel for the friendliness and safety of the neighborhood.

Attend open houses
At open houses pay close attention to the home’s overall condition, including smells, stains or areas that need repair. If other people are touring the home, schedule a separate visit with your REALTOR® so you can take a closer look at the home and ask questions about the home privately.

Be present at the home inspection
Be present at the home inspection. Make sure the inspector has access to all parts of the home, including the attic and crawl spaces. Ask questions. Review the report with your REALTOR® and list what you would like the seller fix. Be aware if a homebuyer has a question about an issue, it is the responsibility of the homebuyer to investigate further and seek a licensed professional to investigate the particular issue.

Get familiar with the home’s electrical and other systems
Get familiar with the home’s electrical and other systems, including where the meter and electrical circuit box are located. Learn how to shut off the water or gas in case of emergency.

Buy adequate homeowners insurance
Lenders require the homeowner to have homeowners insurance. Shop around and compare rates and coverage. If your new home is in a flood-prone area, you may need to buy separate flood insurance.

Change the Locks
Upon taking possession of your new home consider changing all the door locks and installing deadbolts. You don’t know if other people had been given spare keys to your new home.

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Knowledge. Awareness. Empowerment. These are the core components of REALTOR® Safety. To help remind REALTORS® to know the dangers they face every day, to be aware of our surroundings, to empower themselves with precautions and preparations so that they can avoid risky situations, the National Association of  REALTORS® dedicates September as REALTOR® Safety Month.

REALTORS® are at risk when they show homes to strangers or meet them at open houses, and even when they put themselves out on the internet and on social media. Through the REALTOR® Safety Program, launched more than a decade ago, NAR makes a variety of resources available to members, including videos, webinars, and marketing materials and presentations for Associations, adding new resources every year.

This year, NAR launched the REALTOR® Safety Network to deploy safety alerts via social media when a physical or cyber threat to REALTORS® warrants national attention. Visit NAR.realtor/safety to learn more and access all of NAR’s REALTOR® Safety resources.

Also new is the just released 2019 Member Safety Report. This report details how REALTORS® feel about their safety and what steps they are already taking to protect themselves. 

Some highlights of NAR’s Safety Report are:                                  

  • 33 percent of REALTORS® experienced a situation that made them fear for their personal safety or safety of their personal information.
  • The typical REALTOR® reported feeling unsafe less than once a year (54%) in terms of personal safety, but unsafe in terms of personal information every few months or more often (61%).
  • 5 percent of REALTORS® said they had been a victim of a crime while working as a real estate professional.
  • 44 percent of members choose to carry self-defense weapons.
  • 35 percent of men and 49% of women carry a self-defense weapon or tool.
  • 53 percent of members use a smartphone safety app to track whereabouts and alert colleagues in case of an emergency.

Download NAR’s 2019 Member Safety Report HERE.

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