In today’s world, everyone is concerned about online security. This becomes even more significant when dealing with sensitive real estate transactions, client information and online signatures. There are many products that can help real estate agents be safe online, but one in particular is perfect for online transactions. It is the Community feature in the zipForm® Plus package, which is available for free to all Massachusetts brokers and agents.
The Community allows agents in single user accounts to collaborate directly with clients, giving the client the ability to log into a zipForm® portal and make changes in the zipForm® documents within their transaction. These edits are tracked under a history section within the transaction. Upon login to either the agent or client accounts, the end user will then see a notification alert making it easy to track all changes that are made by the other party.
The zipLogix® Community also allows brokers using broker accounts to collaborate with their agents on transactions and provide pre-approval on forms prior to client delivery. All partners in a transaction can communicate securely and confidently with each other, and can share things as sensitive as wire transfer instructions. Here is the zipLogix™ Community and its features at a glance:
Here are four reasons why you should try the zipLogix® Community today:
1. You stay in control. You choose who can views or edits forms, and they only have access to the forms you send them.
2. It’s free for participants. Recipients receive step-by-step instructions for creating their own free zipLogix® account when you send an invitation to collaborate.
3. Increased security. No need to send and receive forms as email attachments or share your login information.
4. There’s a paper trail. The history tab allows you to see a complete history of edits and documents views.
Every REALTOR® has access to zipLogix Community™ with their zipForm® Plus and zipTMS™ account. To get started with zipCommunity™, check out zipLogix support articles or watch YouTube video.
On Monday November 3, 2014 the Fall River Police Departments Major Crimes Division was notified that several female REALTORS® have been receiving phone calls on their cell phone from a suspicious male.
The male often starts the conversation with the insinuation that he has met the Realtor previously and attempts to put the REALTOR® at ease by using their first name. The male caller will often refer to a past showing and then transition into telling the REALTOR® that he has won the lottery in Florida and would like to purchase a home. On several occasions the male eludes to taking the REALTOR® out on a date to Foxwoods.
We have been notified that these calls had started approximately one month ago and as recent as November 3, 2014. The calls have been as early as 6:20am and as late as 11:30pm The male caller has been described as being “upbeat”, between the age of 30 and 40 and has used the names Mike, Carlos and Tony. He often refers to himself as being in the construction field.
The caller has provided phone numbers and e-mail addresses however research has shown that none of the information is truthful.
At this time no REALTOR® has met with the male since his calls rise to a level of suspicion that creates discomfort and eventually the call is terminated. At this time no information relayed has led to the identity of the caller.
It should be noted that FRPD have taken calls from REALTORS® out of Swansea, Tiverton and Somerset.
Since the tragic news, the Arkansas Association of REALTORS’® Heart and Home Foundation has been collecting donations in Carter’s name. The Foundation works to support housing and disaster relief efforts.
About the MAR Charitable Foundation:
“The Massachusetts Association of REALTORS® Charitable Foundation performs a variety of community outreach initiatives that promote professionalism within the real estate industry and provide assistance to needy individuals and the community at large. Since its inception in 1992, the Foundation has operated several grant programs and will continue to purse programs aimed at furthering the REALTOR® tradition of giving back to the local community.”
Trust your gut. As a business professional, you are not required to work with every customer who contacts you. If you do not feel comfortable representing an individual, or feel that your personal safety is as risk, trust your instincts. Under federal and state law, you are prohibited from discriminating against an individual because they are in a protected class. If you are concerned for your safety, however, speak with your broker for advice.
Make a house safe for the buyers and the agent. Listing agents should ask the Seller to identify any physical dangers in a Property and suggest eliminating those dangers, if possible. During the initial safety check of a listing, practitioners should ensure all rooms have adequate lighting as well. Prior to showings, make sure to turn on the lights, whether it’s daytime or evening. Of course, potential dangerous items in the home, such as guns, should be removed from the home before showings. Be sure to also remove not-so-obvious weapons, such as a block of knives on a kitchen countertop.
Keep the house locked and consider extra monitoring. Doors need to be kept locked at all times. A home is being presented to the public and it may attract intruders. In some properties, especially vacant ones, it might be a good idea to talk to your seller about installing a wireless security system. Some companies allow you to access the home security system through your smart phone.
Always show properties before dark. If you are going to be working after hours, advise your associate or first-line supervisor of your schedule. If you must show a property after dark, turn on all lights as you go through, and don’t lower any shades or draw curtains or blinds.
Seller should secure or hide valuables and prescription drugs. It is recommended that the Seller and all other occupants of the Property lock up valuables and prescription drugs in a safe place away from the Property until sold. Occupants may wish rent a safe deposit box. Some banks offer safe deposit boxes free of charge. Agents need to do their part, too. When capturing virtual tours or photographs of the home for marketing purposes, make sure such valuables are not photographed.
Take extra precautions in distressed, vacant homes. When showing a vacant home, first make sure it is safe to go in. Before entering, you should do a perimeter search around the property. Be aware of signs of squatters, such as broken windows or a kicked-in door. If you see signs that a squatter may be present, do not go inside. Also, homes that have been vacant may have maintenance issues. To prevent accidental injuries, beware of loose floorboards, rotted decks, and unsecure railings.
Keep a record of agents’ whereabouts. Always let someone know where you are going and when you will be back; leave the name and phone number of the client you are meeting and schedule a time for your office to call you to check in.
Be careful at open houses. If possible, always try to have at least one other person working with you at the open house. Also be sure to require all visitors to sign in, and ask for their full name, address, phone number and e-mail. When the Open House is over, don’t assume that everyone has left the premises at the end of an open house. Check all of the rooms and the backyard prior to locking the doors.
Lead from behind. When showing a home, always have your prospect walk in front of you. Don’t lead them, but rather, direct them from a position slightly behind them. You can gesture for them to go ahead of you and say, for example, “The master suite is in the back of the house.”
You take the wheel. Whenever possible, take your own car to a showing. When you leave your car, lock it. When you arrive at your destination, park your car in front of the property rather than in the driveway. You will avoid having your car blocked in, you’ll have an easier time escaping in your vehicle, and attract attention, if necessary.
Be sure to have cell service. Have emergency numbers programmed on speed dial, and keep your phone with you at all times. When you’re showing commercial property, thick walls and/or remote locations may interfere with mobile phone reception. Check in advance to be sure your phone is serviceable in the area in which you are showing the property.
Agree on an office distress code. Create a voice distress code, a secret word or phrase that is not commonly used but can be worked into any conversation for cases where you feel that you are in danger. Use this if the person you are with can overhear the conversation, but you don’t want to alarm them. Example: “Hi, this is Jennifer. I’m with Mr. Henderson at the Elm Street listing. Could you e-mail me the RED FILE?”
You are not alone. If you encounter an individual while working late or alone in your office, indicate to that person that you are not alone. Say something like, “Let me check with my supervisor to see whether she’s able to see you now.”
The Arkansas REALTORS® Association is collecting donations in Beverly Carter’s name through their Hearts & Homes program. For more information, visit arkansasrealtors.com.
Some people move here for the great education and distinct seasons, but did you know that Massachusetts is also the safest state to live in the U.S.?
WalletHub, a personal finance social media network, recently ranked the ten safest states based on several metrics including workplace safety, climate disasters, crime, traffic accidents, employer insurance coverage, financial safety, and more. Massachusetts came out on top. Tell your clients!