Feeling Threatened? How to Use Your Smartphone as a Weapon

A smartphone isn't just for making phone calls. Learn about new mobile apps that can help keep you safe on the job. 

July 2011 | By Melissa Dittmann Tracey 

Real estate can be a dangerous profession, as recent incidents in the news attest, but that smartphone you carry everywhere with you can become one of your greatest weapons in protecting you against danger.

4 Safety Mobile Apps You Need

Real estate safety expert and trainer Tracey Hawkins with Safety and Security Source noticed in the real estate safety classes she teaches that practically all of the agents had smartphones lying out in front of them. That’s when she realized that the device that most real estate professionals already carry can become one of their greatest safety aids when meeting with clients and showing homes. Hawkins, a former real estate professional herself, began to research safety apps and came up with a list of her top four picks that she feels are must-haves for anyone working in real estate.

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Are You Sharing Too Much Online?

You may be revealing too much information on Facebook and other social Web sites that might be putting you in danger.

November 2010 | By Melissa Dittmann Tracey 

In your efforts to better connect with prospects and customers on the Web, could you be putting your personal safety at risk? It’s a growing problem, according to Tracey Hawkins, a national safety expert based in Kansas City, Mo., and a consultant to major real estate companies.

"I’m seeing agents who want to show the world that they’re busy and active, so they’re oversharing information" on networks like Facebook, Twitter, and Foursquare, Hawkins says.

The location of the restaurant where you’re meeting a client or a link to the details of a property that you’ll be showing could be used the wrong way by thieves or others who don’t have your best interest in mind, she says.

Even posting your birth date and birth place on Facebook can work against you, giving identity thieves key information they can use to access other personal data, according to the Privacy Rights Clearinghouse, a nonprofit consumer organization.

Here are some more tips for playing it safe:

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6 Crimes Committed Against Real Estate Agents and How to Stay Safe

April 15, 2011

The murder of 27-year-old real estate agent Ashley Okland in a suburban Iowa model home is the latest example of rising violence in an industry that has been buffeted by the mortgage meltdown. 

Okland was found inside a model home in West Des Moines, Iowa, last week after being shot by an unknown assailant. The victim is one of more than a hundred in the real estate profession who have been killed on the job since the foreclosure mess began in 2008. 

"A real estate agent makes a living meeting a complete stranger in an empty home," says Tracey Hawkins, owner and safety product speaker at Safety and Security Source. 

The recent recession hasn't improved safety as agents show properties much more often to make a sale and visit rougher areas for distressed or abandoned properties. 

"Agents may encounter squatters, angry former homeowners or even encounter abandoned pets that may be aggressive," says Hawkins. "These properties are often meth labs, or pot houses, and encroaching upon them is dangerous." 

To keep agents safer, Hawkins created a program for selling foreclosed, real estate owned (REOs) and abandoned homes called Real Estate Agent Safety for Distress Properties. 

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Watch What You Post: Social Networking Can Pose Threats to Your Safety 

What you post online about yourself and your listings can come back to hurt you, if you’re not careful. 

September is Realtor Safety Month, a reminder to all real estate agents about the dangers of showing homes to strangers and conducting open houses. But social networking safety is one issue many agents fail to consider. 

What you do online can also put you in danger, says Tracey Hawkins, a national real estate safety expert with Safety and Security Source in Kansas City, Mo., who holds workshops and training on real estate safety across the country.

Using social networking sites for real estate is booming: 84 percent of real estate agents report using social media, such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, according to the 2010 Realtor Technology Survey Report by the Center for Realtor Technology.

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Kansas City Regional Association of REALTORS


Safety for Real Estate Agents
The number one safety tip that can save your life and keep you from being victimized is to simply trust your instinct. Our bodies have a built-in survival mechanism that is hardly ever wrong. When you get that gut feeling telling you something is wrong, listen to it, act on it and respect it.

In the interest of being polite, we ignore that voice because we don't want to offend anyone. That is what gets us in trouble, being nice. Put your safety first and don't worry about offending anyone. You can always apologize later if needed.

Tracey Hawkins, real estate agent safety expert and the instructor for KCRAR’s CE class called “Be Safe: Protecting You and Your Clients,” offers these common-sense and important tips to always keep in mind:

Real Estate Industry Publications and Interviews with Real Estate Safety Expert, Tracey Hawkins

Over 3,000 agents trained on safe work practices since 2015! More scheduled for this year. There is no better. more qualified real estate agent safety expert!
In the wake of Arkansas Real Estate Agent Beverly Carter's Death, Tracey Hawkins (a former real estate agent and the country's #1 real estate agent safety expert) Has Been Able to Offer Safety Advice for Agents Throughout the Country.

 Please read and share these links and invaluable safety tips and information.
"The Safety Talk You Need to Have With Clients"
Keep all parties safe in a transaction by offering buyers and sellers these important tips.

Have you had the safety talk with your clients yet? It’s not only for their safety but for yours too. Read more...
"6 Crimes Committed Against Real Estate Agents and How to Stay Safe"
April 15, 2011
"Arkansas real estate agent’s murder highlights perils of the job"
"Risky business: Real estate agent's killing hits home for Realtors"
"Real estate agent’s death sparks refocus on job safety"
"Make Safety a Brokerage Priority"