50 years later: Agent safety viewed across a career

Welcome to Safe & Sold™, the series dedicated to agent safety, presented by FOREWARN®.

Our guest today is Dale Zahn, former CEO of West Michigan Lakeshore Association of REALTORS®. Dale is a recognized speaker and trainer of Professional Standards and Association leadership with nearly 18 years as a REALTOR® that preceded 32 years of experience as a REALTOR® Association CEO. In addition to his long career, Dale is a member of the Bud Smith Leadership Society, second tier national RPAC Hall of Fame inductee, Lakeshore Fair Housing Award recipient, the first-ever Beverly Carter Foundation Heart of Safety award recipient, and much more.

Celebrating 50 years

In December of 2023, Dale reached an impressive milestone—50 years spent in real estate! This long tenure has afforded Dale with a unique insight into how the industry has evolved and what can be done to ensure his association members are safeguarded against new and old threats.

Looking back, planning ahead

Dale remembers when he began his career in real estate, and how agent safety wasn’t a concern—no one gave it a second thought. Unfortunately, he says, the world has since changed and agents face a near constant risk of danger or fraud. That’s why he champions the use of safety measures such as FOREWARN.

He can speak to several instances of violent crime against real estate agents in his time within the industry, and has his own experience with close calls. Knowing the possible negative outcomes for agents that are unable or ill-equipped to perform due diligence on new clients has made offerings like FOREWARN a critical component within Dale’s push to encourage agents to prioritize their personal safety.

Keeping pace with fraud

When attempting to ensure the clients that agents are meeting are who they say they are, Dale stresses that it should be a quick and easy process. He believes the swift evolution of internet scams, where bad actors assume a false identity or create a fake pre-approval letter that claims assets they don’t have, is a primary concern for agents today.

By providing his association members with easy-to-use solutions like FOREWARN, agents can quickly verify identities, assets, and criminal history—helping to provide an extra layer of protection from the bad actors that wish to cause harm.

Raising awareness and red flags

Safety measures like FOREWARN are particularly valuable to Dale and his association members. He says that it helps bring increased awareness, and perhaps even raise some red flags, in situations that might pose a threat to an agent. He believes it affords the opportunity for additional steps, like taking a second person to meet a new client.

Ultimately, Dale says, the FOREWARN app saves time. Time saved in knowing who they are meeting and if they are who they say they are. From knowing ahead of time that a potential new client had a violent criminal record, to someone falsifying their assets in order to gain access to a luxury listing.

Why not?

Dale concludes with the question he asks any agent not using FOREWARN to help keep them safe. As of yet, he says he has not been given a valid answer.

Thank you again to Dale for sharing his story. Stay tuned for the next episode of Safe & Sold, presented by FOREWARN!