As president of the Greater Chattanooga Association of Realtors,Nathan Walldorf is setting his sights on creating a safety program for members-because they face threats when meeting strangers in empty locations, like the homes or apartments they show.
“We get called and asked to go open homes for complete strangers all the time,” he said.
The 2014 murder of real estate agent Beverly Carter “rocked the real estate community,” he said.
To recognize National Realtor Safety Month, GCAR is hosting two safety classes.
A self-defense class is scheduled for Sept. 23 from noon to 4 p.m.
A Safe Business = Smart Business seminar is set for Sept. 28 from 1 to 4 p.m.
Both classes are being offered free to members of the association, and nonmembers are also invited to attend for a small fee.
The National Association of Realtors commissioned the 2015 Member Safety Report, which found that while 96 percent of Realtors have never been the victims of crime, 40 percent have found themselves in situations where they have feared for their safety or the safety of their personal information.
Walldorf said he’s heard of a local story in which an agent was showing a commercial property. He was robbed of everything but his underwear.
And there was at least one time thatWalldorf got a call from someone who seemed suspicious, so he took precautions.
There is an array of steps that agents can take to protect themselves, and he’s currently working to implement a local program that outlines safety guidelines, he also said.
Agents should let their co-workers know where they are going; ideally, they should meet with the person in their office in an effort to make sure the potential buyer is serious and legitimate.
Other protections include getting a person’s identification or license plate number, or using apps that can help police track agents’ phones in the event of an emergency, he said.
In addition to educating real estate agents,Walldorf said the public also needs to be informed so they aren’t taken aback if a Realtor asks for identification or wants to take precautions.
The association has teamed up with the Women’s Council of Realtors to create a program to better protect the professionals in the industry.
“Hopefully in the next month or so we will have that program up and running,”Walldorf said.