What would you be willing to do in order to keep a real estate transaction from falling through? Would you literally put your life on the line to save a deal? Ask any agent or broker, and the answer likely will be an easy “no.”
But according to real estate safety instructor Cheryl Knowlton, president of Elite Edge Real Estate Training, practitioners most commonly cite fear of losing the deal as the reason they don’t follow safety protocols on the job. However, a third of the nation’s 1.3 million Realtors® say that they’ve faced professional situations that made them afraid for their personal safety or the security of their personal information, according to the National Association of Realtors’ (NAR) 2018 Member Safety Report.
Though fewer Realtors say they’ve been in harm’s way on the job – 33 percent, down from 38 percent in 2017 – there’s still a prevailing motivation in the industry to put business interests above all else, says Knowlton, who recently hosted a safety webinar called “Habits to Keep You Safe on the Job Year-Round.”
“We don’t want you to lose a deal, but we also don’t want you to lose your life,” Knowlton said during the webinar.
Sixteen real estate professionals were killed in homicides while on the job last year, and 64 suffered fatal injuries, according to figures from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics cited in NAR’s “Real Estate Safety Matters” course. Bad habits that make you more vulnerable to safety threats in real estate – such as working alone, focusing on something other than your immediate surroundings, and meeting prospects in the field before verifying their identity – take time to break, Knowlton said. She offered a five-step process for changing unsafe work habits.
Admit that you need to make a change. “Whether you’re creating a new, good habit or breaking a bad one, you can’t change anything you’re not willing to acknowledge,” Knowlton said.
Understand the things that can trigger bad habits. Knowlton said two things often lead real estate professionals to skirt safety protocols: the need to save time and a “faulty belief that I’m going to lose this deal, and it’s going to go to my competition if I don’t do these things – meet strangers in strange places and keep doing things the way I’ve always done them.”
Change your routine one action at a time. If you typically meet prospects for the first time at property showings, start committing to having a phone conversation with them first, where you can gather information about the potential client and their needs. Identify behaviors that are problematic for your safety, and institute one action that could help alleviate the danger. Eventually, it will become a new habit.
Believe that it’s necessary to change behaviors. You won’t be able to change your behavior long term unless you believe it truly makes a difference in your life, Knowlton said. “We’ve got to believe that we can and will make the changes necessary” and “tap into the reasons why we want to make those changes.”
Reward yourself for making small but significant changes. “You can eat an elephant if you take it one bite at a time,” Knowlton said. “I used to be guilty of setting gigantic goals, and then becoming frustrated and overwhelmed because I didn’t achieve what I set out to do in the timeframe I set out to do it.” Without recognizing the small shifts you make in pursuit of a larger change in your routine, the effects won’t be long-lasting.
Source: National Association of Realtors® (NAR)
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