At PSP, we’re gearing up for REALTOR Safety Month in September, and just in case you were not present for our continuing education class entitled, “Real Estate Assault Awareness,” here are some of the important points that you missed:
The class instructor was Ken Malcolm, a 32-year veteran of the Covington Police Department and Criminology Professor at Georgia State University. Malcolm started the course by saying there are two types of “bad guys:” the opportunist and the predator. “Both love to target real estate professionals,” he said. “Of all the courses you’ll take, this one is the most important.”
While an opportunist will be encouraged to action when the right circumstances present themselves, a predator acts with forethought and planning. In 2003, the National Association of Realtors released a survey that reported “67% of real estate professionals experienced safety concerns, incidents, or harassing situations while working.” According to the Federal Bureau of Labor Statistics, over 700 real estate agents were physically assaulted, robbed, or raped between 1992 and 1997. Malcolm stressed the importance of staying aware of your surroundings, of trusting your instincts when they tell you someone or something is wrong, and of having a plan for when the worst happens.
He introduced the 10-Second Rule, where agents were encouraged to stop and take 10 seconds to observe before exiting a building, entering a parking garage or stairwell, getting in a car, etc. Other than alerting you to possible dangerous people lurking nearby, it could also save you from driving on a flat tire and getting stuck on the side of the road.
Malcolm spoke at length about having a series of plans in place if a physical assault were to occur. Many of those plans require repeated, daily practice as agents work. Implement the 10-Second Rule. Stay off your phone and undistracted as you walk to your car. Never invite clients to ride in your vehicle. Always park on the street during a showing, with your vehicle pointed toward safety. Be sure that someone in the office knows where you are when working with a client, then check in with them at appointed times.
Your appearance matters, too. Don’t be known for wearing expensive jewelry. Dress “tactically” when showing homes; skip the high heels, skirts, and clothing that doesn’t allow you to run or fight if needed. Protect your identity and personal information on social media. Many predators find victims through social media platforms, where addresses are too readily available.
He demonstrated how to stand at a slight angle while speaking to clients, feet apart for greater balance. If an attack occurs, deflect it with your non-dominant hand and put both hands up. Now it looks like you are surrendering, but your hands are up in a protective way, ready to defend. This buys time for your next decision: Can you run or do you need to stay and fight?
Malcolm showed several self-defense moves, stressing the importance of hitting your attacker’s weakest points: the throat (#1), the groin (#2), and the eyes (#3). Use the side of your flattened hand to “chop” at the attacker’s throat. Knee the attacker twice to the groin, which can induce involuntary vomiting and will certainly slow him down. And use your thumbs to gouge his eyes.
Malcolm discussed weapons for personal defense, as well. Handguns can be very effective, but often give people a false sense of security. Unless it is carried on your person at all times, it will likely be out of reach in your moment of need. Instead, he recommended carrying pepper spray. It is small, requires minimal training, can be easily carried unnoticed, is inexpensive, and will effectively slow down your attacker when it hits his eyes, nose, and throat. Each PSP agent present for the class went home with pepper spray. We hope you are carrying it and ready to use it if needed!
The best way to beat an attacker, according to Malcolm, is to deny them the opportunity. Be vigilant, trust your uneasiness as a warning, and always have a plan. As REALTORs, we are more vulnerable in many ways. We urge every agent to take action to reduce their risk of personal attack. If you were not available for this class, please sign up for another one soon.
We appreciate talented instructors like Ken Malcolm, who made the class fun while imparting truly valuable information. This article contains just a glimpse of all the great tips our agents learned during the class. Look for more great safety tips as REALTOR Safety Month begins tomorrow!
Peggy Slappey Properties, Inc. is a Metro Atlanta real estate brokerage with 35 years of experience in real estate sales and marketing. From new home construction to resales, we can help you find the home of your dreams. To see our current listings, visit www.psponline.com and call us for expert advice at 770-271-5555. Keep up to date with the latest PSP events and offers by checking in on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/peggyslappeyproperties and on Twitter at https://twitter.com/psponline.