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Should REALTORS® allow strangers in their vehicles?

Ya’ know, I always wondered about that: Why do REALTORS® do that? Personally, I don’t…and I won’t. Do you?

Let’s do a quick inventory of professions who let strangers in their vehicles:
• Lawyers – No
• Doctors – No
• Teachers – No
• Nurses – No
• Construction Workers – No
• Accountants – No
• Jugglers – No (but truth be told, most of them ride unicycles)
UFC Fighters – No
• News Anchors – No
• Nuclear Physicist – No
• Webmasters – No
• Mail Carriers – No

Come to think of it, only taxi cab drivers, bus drivers and Hansom cab drivers are the only people who let strangers into their vehicles on a regular basis – wait, often those aren’t even their own cars.

1. Why do we?
2. Is it essential?
3. Is it dangerous?

I can’t answer the first question for anyone else…you’ll have to do that for yourself. Now, just for the record, I was born in The Bronx, but grew up in Denver for the most part. Other than a 3-year stint working in Lower Manhattan in the late 80’s (which was AWESOME), I have lived in Denver. Perhaps my time in New York jaded me, but I won’t allow anybody I don’t know in my car. I am of average stature and capable of defending myself, but last time I checked my skin was not knife proof or bulletproof. So, I keep people out of my confined space – my retreat.

As to it being essential, no it isn’t. People often turn Realtors® into chauffeurs and welcome wagon host/hostesses…and Realtors® allow it! I never understood that.

My experience has been that nothing makes a Buyer appreciate your time more than them doing their own driving, buying their own gas and wasting their own time. I have found it makes them focus on the search more intently. It also permits them (if they are a couple) the opportunity to privately discuss a home between showings. And it also has them appreciate the traffic surrounding various home choices. And in my experience, it seems peers like myself, who don’t chauffeur prospective Buyers, show fewer homes and close faster than our peers who turn their cars into “The Ride” (the name of our bus/rail system here in Denver). And isn’t your time money? Isn’t your gas a cost?

Is it dangerous? As I noted, I impose an unpalatable target for about 90% of the criminals out there. But I am not bulletproof. When I get to a showing with a stranger, I will note the car, license plate and text it to myself (or a family member).

And I now add one more thing to the mix: Glympse. Glympse (http://www.Glympse.com ) is a cool smart phone app that tracks you live time via GPS to people of your choosing. I send a “Glympse” to a client and my contact to show where I am (never starting at my home if that is where I am starting my day from). In fact, I was going to a meeting in Pueblo last week (about 110 miles south of Denver). I sent my friend a Glympse…and he was able to do his thing until I got into the city limits and then was able to meet me for a day of meetings. It saved him time and was easy to use.

On a somber note, it could also prove of value to someone who is abducted. It would give an immediate heads-up if a broker associate sent a Glympse to the office admin to keep them apprised of their whereabouts. If abducted, you could be tracked to within the radius of the accuracy of your GPS (or about 3m/10’). Imagine how helpful that would be in either discouraging potential threats or assisting in their successful resolution if they did occur?

Now on to more practical considerations…

Are you prepared to accept the liability for the injuries of someone who you are driving in your car during a collision? Even if you aren’t at fault, you’ll still get sued. Odds are you will have a settlement imposed on you by your insurance carrier. And if you don’t have business use coverage, it could ALL be on YOU. (Consult an attorney, as I only play one on television.)  And I am guessing you won’t get the closing either…

But lastly, there is another consideration: Fair Housing. Are you able to handle all clients equally? If you cannot accommodate someone with a handicap, aren’t you discriminating? Yes, you are. Are you likely to be able to accommodate a wheelchair in a 2-seater? Or you able to accommodate a service dog in your car, even if you or your family member have an allergy to them? What if they have a service pig or service pony? Yeah, they exist.

So, between the safety, liability and fair treatment issues it just doesn’t make sense.

For me it’s more about my time and not becoming a chauffeur. And, truth be told, I feel it devalues what we do to add bus driver to our credentials. I am not being derisive toward bus drivers. But we shouldn’t practice law and shouldn’t add that to our credentials either. We shouldn’t add bus driving too.

We are professionals who engage in an information interexchange to list, market, contract and sell homes…not drivers. Every minute we take that hat off and put on another career hat, it costs you…and could cost you dearly. Isn’t it tough enough in this market?

And I don’t recall taking a driving test in the Real Estate Exam…do YOU?!?!

 

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