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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.

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.

self-defense training

Trolan guides two members as they practice a self-defense move she taught them.

The business of real estate is risky because unlike other jobs, most REALTORS® work alone and show properties to strangers. As such, they become targets of crime. According to the National Association of REALTORS®, 48 percent of all REALTORS® have felt physically threatened and uncomfortable during a showing. This is the reason why SILVAR past president and Region 9 chair Karen Trolan offers self-defense training for members every year.

“Training saves lives,” says Trolan. “Every agent, whether male or female, should know some self-defense. It’s good to learn some techniques that you can use if you ever need to.”

Trolan, who is wheelchair bound as a result of an accident many years ago, hasn’t let that stop her from self-defense training. She has a Kenpo Jujitsu 2nd degree black belt, Taekwondo 2nd degree black belt, and other high level martial art and self-defense skills, include Jujitsu, Escrima and Sword Arts.

Last Friday, assisted by her husband Steve, who has training in advanced nerve strike fighting, she taught 20 SILVAR members how to use their hands to strike a potential assailant on the upper half of their body and how to aim at parts of the body where they can do the most damage easily.

“The best thing you can do is run away screaming, but unfortunately, there have been agents that haven’t been able to get away. Talking your way out of it might work, but be ready with self-defense. Being able to fight back or getting out of a choke hold could mean life or death,” says Trolan.

“Prevention is the best self-defense,” adds Trolan.

Here are some safety tips to remember:

  • Let people know WHERE you are going, WHO you will be meeting, WHEN you will be back. WHAT to do if you don’t return and the ACTION to take if they cannot contact you.
  • Always meet a new person in a public place and get their ID.
  • Show strength in whatever you do. When you’re walking, look around; don’t look down. Always make eye contact. Speak in a loud voice because this gives the appearance of strength.
  • Refrain from announcing open houses and where you will be on social media.
  • Tell your clients not to show their home by themselves. Alert them that not all agents, buyers and sellers are who they say they are. Tell your sellers to refer all inquiries to you.
  • Remind your clients that strangers will be walking through their home during showings or open houses. Tell them to hide any valuables in a safe place. For security’s sake, remember to remove keys, credit cards, jewelry, crystal, furs and other valuables from the home or lock them away during showings. Also remove prescription drugs.
  • Pre-program important numbers into your cell phone. These may include your office, your roadside assistance service or garage, and 9-1-1.
  • Inform clients who are selling that while you are taking safety precautions, and that you’ve checked and locked the home before leaving, they should double-check all locks and scout for missing items immediately upon their return.

The National Association of REALTORS® (NAR) is warning members about a new email scam targeting REALTORS®. An email claiming to be from “REALTOR® Party via DocuSign” and containing an attachment is being sent to REALTORS®. This email is not from NAR. Do not open any attachments or click any of the links, which may ask for passwords.

NAR will never ask you for your DocuSign credentials. Please delete this email if you see it. If you’ve opened the email and entered your DocuSign credentials, you should log into DocuSign and change your password immediately.

NAR urges its members and state and local REALTOR® associations to be on high alert for email and online fraud.

Click here for more resources and information on cyberscams and cybersecurity best practices.

REALTORSafety2011

REALTORS® should review safety tips because they face more on-the-job risks than many other business professionals. 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. Attackers look for unsuspecting, vulnerable targets, so prevention is the best self-defense. If you act like a victim, you could be one.

Below are general safety tips provided by Silicon Valley Association of REALTORS® Past President Karen Trolan, who teaches the safety and self-defense course to SILVAR REALTORS® every year:

  1. Be aware that social media is a tool used by criminals to track their prey as agents leave a web trail on Facebook, Twitter and other social media sites. Don’t post where you will be, especially if you will be hosting an open house alone.
  2. Be Aware; notice anything out of place or unusual. Be suspect of everyone. Don’t let your guard down.
  3. Walk erect and proud to deter criminals. Don’t act like a victim; show strength.
  4. Always have your cell phone where it is easily accessible. Pre-program emergency numbers into speed dial, including 911.
  5. When confronted by an assailant, don’t engage! Stay calm and think! Use your sales skills to talk them out of it and let you go.
  6. Use the Military 5-point Contingency Plan. Let people know: – WHERE you are going. – WHO you will be meeting. – WHEN you will be back. – WHAT to do if you don’t return. – The ACTION to take if they cannot contact you.
  7. Always meet a client for the first time in the office or a public place.
  8. Leave your property tour itinerary with the office or colleague/family, with the addresses of the properties you plan to show.
  9. When visiting a property with a client you don’t know, take separate cars. If they make you feel uneasy, bring along a buddy.
  10. When showing a home, do not venture into confined or closed-in areas where you might get trapped, like basements, bathrooms, or walk-in closets. Know where the exits are. Always position yourself between your clients and a safe exit.
  11. At the home, look around the room for items that you could use as a weapon, in case of emergency. Be aware that an assailant will try to take the weapon away from you.
  12. If you are in a bad situation and can’t call for help, press call (preset) and leave the line open so the person on the other line can hear and get help for you. You can also get a “panic alert” or security alarm system for your phone.
  13. Trust your gut. If it doesn’t feel right, escape the situation immediately.
  14. When confronted by an assailant, the best thing you can do is scream as loud as you can and run!!! Get away from the situation.

When you’re in a confrontation, you only have a few seconds and a few moves to try. Before an attacker has gained control of you, you must do everything you can to inflict injury so you can get away. Be smart by being aware and prepared!

 

 

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Wherever you go, whatever you do, you cannot look like a victim. Be aware of your surroundings. If confronted by someone, the best thing to do is scream and run! Get away from the situation. Use physical force only as a last resort, but be ready. These are the first important tips Karen Trolan, past president of SILVAR and safety and self-defense instructor, shared with participants at last Friday’s REALTOR® Safety and Self-Dense Training.

According to Trolan, prevention is the best self-defense. Attackers look for unsuspecting vulnerable targets. “If you act like a victim, you could be one. Therefore, be prepared and follow general safety tips, like being aware of your surroundings,” said Trolan.

When it is clear that escape isn’t possible, shout, “Back off!” as loud as you can and push the attacker right away. This will surprise the attacker and let them know you are not an easy target.

Trolan explained when you are in a confrontation, you only have a few seconds and a few moves to try, so before the attacker gains full control of you, you must do everything to inflict injury so you can get away.

So Trolan, assisted by Pacific Coast Academy instructor Alex Franckx, Carla Bunch and Trolan’s husband Steve – all of whom have several black belts in jujitsu and other self-defense training, demonstrated and then practiced with the over 20 REALTORS® present how to use their hands to strike the assailant on the upper half of their body and using their fingers, palms, elbows, knees and feet, how to aim at parts of the body where they can easily do the most damage. Trolan later reviewed other REALTOR® safety tips and shared information on several safety apps REALTORS® can download that can help track their movements, vet clients, or remotely activate emergency alerts.

Trolan has been teaching SILVAR members REALTOR® safety and self-defense for the past three years because she is concerned about the rise in crime against real estate agents. There have been assaults, robberies, sexual assaults, and even murders.

“Real estate professionals are targets because they often work alone and can be in potentially dangerous situations when they are showing a home or meeting new clients who are strangers to them. Men, as well as women, have been targets,” said Trolan. “All REALTORS® should learn at least basic safety and self-defense techniques.”

VIEW PHOTOS

 

 

REALTORSafety2011

Burglars continue to target vacant homes for sale in the Bay Area. Recently, there have been reports of a surge in burglaries in Livermore, where burglars hit nine homes in December. The burglars appear to have used a cutting tool to cut the lock box and get the keys to the residences. Electronics, televisions, appliances and even picture frames have been stolen from the homes, many of which have been staged.

The Silicon Valley Association of REALTORS® (SILVAR) reminds all REALTORS® and their clients to take precautions to prevent this crime from happening to them. For your safety and that of your client, please consider taking the following precautions and share them with clients who plan to sell their home or leave their home vacant for a period of time:

  • Make the home look occupied. Use automatic timers on lights, a TV, and/or radios and set them to go on and off at different times to make your house appear occupied. Install motion detectors on the exterior of your home and garage/shed.
  • Keep curtains/blinds closed and lock all doors and windows. Use wooden stakes inside door/window frames to prevent them from being opened from the outside.
  • Keep the property maintained, grass mowed, and leaves raked. Trim trees and shrubs so they can’t conceal burglars.
  • Inform the police and trusted neighbors that the house will be vacant for an extended time.
  • Ask neighbors to keep an eye on the property and call 9-1-1 immediately if they see or hear any suspicious activity. Ask them to park their vehicle in the driveway and/or pick up fliers or circulars that may be left on the front porch, driveway, or in the newspaper box.
  • Consider installing an alarm system and/or security cameras. Keep alarms activated even if the residents have moved out.
  • Consider hiring a house sitter to prevent the home from being vacant during the selling period.
  • Refrain from putting “For Rent” or “For Sale” signs in front of your property.
  • Schedule viewings by appointment only.
  • Never leave a spare house key under doormats, flowerpots, mailboxes, or other hiding places.
  • Place the lockbox out of plain sight, so it is not easily visible to passersby.
  • Don’t place posts on social networking sites that inform others that the house is for sale.

 

No matter where you are or who you are with, always trust your senses because your subconscious is almost always right. This was the first important safety tip that Santa Clara County Deputy Sheriff Chad Garton shared with SILVAR members at Wednesday’s Los Gatos/Saratoga District tour meeting.

Garton, who is a U.S. veteran who served in Iraq, said trusting your instinct is also what soldiers do in combat. If you feel uneasy about a person you are with or a situation you are in, trust your gut feeling and leave that person or remove yourself from the situation.

“Your subconscious is constantly taking in information; do not ignore that,” said Garton.

Garton said REALTORS® are especially at risk because they meet strangers all the time. He shared what he termed a 5-point Contingency Plan, which those in the military also use: Let people know:
1. WHERE you are going.

2. WHO you will be meeting.

3. WHEN you will be back.

4. What to do if you don’t return.

5. The ACTION to take if they cannot contact you.

Here are other safety tips Garton shared with members:

• It may be part of your job to show your professionalism and success in the way you   dress, but be aware that people are watching you and looking for ways to steal valuables.

  • Don’t leave valuables in plain sight in your car. It only takes 17 seconds for someone to break into a car.
  • Always meet a new person in a public place and get their ID.
  • Show strength in whatever you do. When you’re walking, look around; don’t look down. Always make eye contact. Speak in a loud voice because this gives the appearance of strength.
  • Do not carry a firearm. If you have to carry a weapon, make sure you are fully trained to use it. Pepper spray and Mace are good, but you still need to train yourself to use these self-defense devices.
  • An alarm system can act as a deterrent and video cameras inside and outside the home are even better deterrents because they can identify the robbers.
  • Lock all doors and windows even if you are home. If the weather is warm, spend the extra money and turn on the air conditioner, instead of leaving windows open.
  • Refrain from announcing open houses and where you will be on social media.
  • Do not to hesitate to call 9-1-1 if they see something suspicious, or feel you are in danger.

 

 

 

 

REALTORSafety2011
Recent news reports about burglaries of vacant homes for sale in the Bay Area are troubling and a good reminder for REALTORS® and their clients to take precautions to prevent this crime from happening to them. Majority of recent burglaries have occurred in homes with “For Sale” signs in the front yard, or homes that are easily identifiable as being vacant. These burglars are taking large appliances, like refrigerators and stoves.

The Silicon Valley Association of REALTORS® shares the following safety tips with homeowners who plan to sell their home or leave their home vacant for an extended time:

  • Make your home look occupied. Use automatic timers on lights, a TV and/or radio, and set them to go on and off at different times to make your house appear occupied.
  • Install motion detectors on the exterior of your home and garage or shed.
  • Keep curtains/blinds closed and lock all doors and windows. Use wooden stakes inside patio door/window frames to prevent them from being opened from the outside.
  • Keep your property maintained, grass mowed, and leaves raked. Trim trees and bushes so they can’t conceal burglars.
  • Inform the police and trusted neighbors that your house will be vacant for an extended time. Police may be able to patrol your neighborhood periodically and keep an eye on your property. Ask neighbors to keep an eye on the property and call 9-1-1 immediately if they see or hear any suspicious activity.
  • Ask a trusted neighbor to pick up flyers or newspapers that may be left on the front porch or driveway. Consider having a neighbor park their vehicle in your driveway while you are gone.
  • Install an alarm system and/or security cameras.
  • Consider renting your home or hiring a house sitter so the house won’t be vacant.
  • Know the risks of putting “For Rent” or “For Sale” signs in front of your property.
  • Never leave a spare house key under doormats, flowerpots, or other hiding places.
  • Don’t place posts on social media informing others that your house is for sale or that you will be away on vacation.

 

 

 

Karen Trolan demonstrates a move that can knock down an assailant.

Karen Trolan demonstrates a move that can knock down an assailant.

At “REALTORS® Training REALTORS®,” a free safety and self-defense training class offered by SILVAR last Friday at the Pacific Coast Academy in Los Gatos, REALTORS® trained in martial arts taught 28 real estate professionals risk awareness, safety tips, and how to protect themselves in a hostile situation.

The instructors were Laura Welch (Century 21 M&M), a jujitsu 7th degree black belt and judo 3rd degree black belt and director of Jujitsu America; Carla Bunch, (Marbella Properties), a jujitsu 5th degree black belt; and SILVAR President-elect Karen Trolan (Alain Pinel Realtors) taekwondo 2nd degree black belt, kenpo jujitsu first degree black belt, jujitsu first degree brown belt, and Shinkendo. The class was sponsored by the Jujitsu Academy.

Trolan and her colleagues were inspired to put the course together because REALTORS® are at risk every day as they meet different people. “In the last decade, hundreds of real estate professionals throughout the country have been murdered, violently assaulted, raped, beaten and robbed,” said Trolan. “Agents can be in potentially dangerous situations, but usually you can avoid becoming a victim by being aware and prepared. All REALTORS® should learn at least basic safety and self-defense techniques.”

During the class, the real estate professionals learned how to get out of dangerous situations, different ways they can hit an assailant, what can be used to defend themselves against an attack from an assailant, and ways to get out of common holds or attacks. These agents were also provided numerous safety tips and ways to be aware.

“It was great to have women, for their first time, learning how to be aware and protect themselves. The group had fun and took away good practice in these basics,” said Trolan.

Studies show 80 percent of women who fought back in an attack situation have gotten away. “We all need to be prepared, follow general safety tips, like being aware of your surroundings, knowing some self-defense moves, and taking personal security precautions,” said Trolan.

REVIEW REALTOR® SAFETY TIPS AND SIGN UP FOR APRIL 21 REALTOR® SAFETY WEBINAR HERE

Real estate professionals practice some self-defense moves.

Real estate professionals practice some self-defense moves.

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