The next time you go to an open house for a house for sale, bear this in mind: that chatty, hyper-friendly realtor who encourages you to take an information sheet about the home might just be packing a sidearm under their blazer.
A recent survey by the National Association of Realtors found that 1 in 6 realtors state that they carry a gun on the job. Why? Because being a realtor has become an increasingly dangerous job in our increasingly dangerous world. Non-realtors like me don’t focus on the risks, but they’re pretty apparent when you think about what realtors do. They typically work alone. They make appointments and meet with potential clients who are total strangers that might potentially want to rob them or otherwise do them harm. And they regularly go into darkened, empty houses where an unknown home invader might be lurking. In short, being a realtor doesn’t just require a gift of gab and sales skills, it also requires a considerable bit of intestinal fortitude, too. Not many of us have jobs that require us to regularly go alone into strange houses where we might encounter unknown people with unknown intentions.
The statistics bear out the risks that realtors face. A 2018 NAR study found that 33 percent of the realtors surveyed had experienced a situation that made them fear for their safety, and five percent responded that they had been the victim of a crime a work. And, as the article linked above shows, in some cases realtors have been the victims of assaults, armed robberies, and even abduction, kidnapping, and murder. That’s one reason why the NAR has stepped up education and training efforts to try to help realtors deal with the risks. And it’s why an increasing number of realtors have decided that, for their own safety, it makes sense to bring along a weapon when they are going on the job.
I think being a realtor would be a tough gig for a lot of reasons. You’re going to be dealing with a lot of people who really aren’t serious buyers and ultimately are just wasting your time, and you’ve got to be enthusiastic and pleasant whenever you’re with a client, which must be exhausting. The personal safety risk just makes the realtor role more difficult. If I had a job where I thought I needed to cary a gun to be safe, I think I’d look for another job. But I also think this: I’ll never again wonder about whether realtors really earn that commission when a house is bought and sold.
Selling a house sure has changed a lot since the last time we did it!
This shouldn’t be a surprise. As you would expect, technology and social media have been brought strongly into the mix. Yesterday a professional photographer come out to take pictures of our happy homestead, and now they’re on the web. You can find the link to the photos, taken on a rainy afternoon, here. Our realtor also instantly prepared glossy brochures with the photos and a description of our house and neighborhood that are resting on our kitchen island, ready to be reviewed by potential buyers, and there is a basket next to the front door with plastic shoe coverings and a little sign asking that visitors use the booties to avoid tracking outdoor debris into the pristine Webner House premises.
Speaking of visitors, there’s no need to worry about that potentially awkward seller-buyer encounter. In fact, there’s an app for that. I downloaded it today, and it is supposed to keep track of when people are going to be visiting. Our realtor also calls, emails, and texts, too, to make sure that everyone is on the same page when it comes to a showing. The only thing I’m lacking is an ankle bracelet to give me a reminder electric shock when it’s time to hit the road and let the visiting couple roam freely through the house.
When we sold Mom’s condo recently, our realtor gave us some advice about how to “stage” her home. Less is more, he advised. That meant emptying out the place to allow the rooms to seem more spacious and airy. It also meant leaving only a few well-positioned items on shelves that previously were crammed full.
His techniques worked. Mom’s place never looked so good, and we got an offer we accepted the first weekend it was for sale.
Whether it’s “staging” or feng shui concepts, the experts agree that decluttering is a key first step to making your home look better. If it works on a place that is being sold, why not try it on a home that is still being used?
I decided to apply the approach to the shelves in our study. Over the years, new books, papers, photos, and various random objects were deposited there until they were overflowing. It was really bugging me, so on Saturday I decided to tackle the shelf project. The papers were stored or pitched, the photos taken away, the random objects were thrown out or placed with more care, and the books were carefully evaluated for likely future reading. We figured if we hadn’t read one of the later books in the Clan of the Cave Bear series at this point, we probably weren’t likely to do so now. Through that process, three bankers’ boxes of books were taken off the shelves.
When I was done, I was happy with our work and thought our shelves looked much better. The study felt like a better place. A feng shui expert, or a realtor, would probably say that we still have a ways to go — but it’s a start.