Being a real estate agent can definitely be a difficult job at times. From managing several buyer and seller clients at once, to tracking paperwork and juggling upcoming closings. But he thought that your real estate career can present you with some dangerous situations, hardly ever enters your mind. Some scary stuff in the news lately is driving home the fact that Realtor safety should become a priority.
Realtor safety concerns are nothing new. Several years ago, when I worked in the front office for a major real estate company, the company had decided to offer self defense classes to their agents which some thought was silly. Since the subject came up, my broker then told me this story:
She was working with these first-time buyers, showing them several properties on the weekends over a few weeks. One Saturday morning, she was setting up a few showing appointments for the day, and called one particular owner-occupied home where a pleasant gentleman answered. He said it was the requested appointment was fine and he would make sure to be out of the home.
Since this was the first appointment of the day, she decided to get to the property ahead of her clients to preview it herself, open up curtains, turn on lights, etc. When she unlocked and opened the door, about 10 feet in front of her was a man sitting in a chair with a shotgun in his lap, starting straight at her. She quickly apologized for disturbing him, backed away, closed the door, and got in her car. She had her clients meet her at the next property instead.
Now that scary situation turned out to be ok for my former boss, as she was unharmed. But it has stuck in her memory and has always taken extra safety measures ever since.
The news tell us that some agents have not been so lucky.
Last year, two Realtors were found murdered in separate incidents, one found shot in a vacant home he was showing, and one found in burning home.
Back in April, an Iowa Realtor was found murdered at an at a model home open house.
In July, a Tennessee agent was attacked and robbed during a showing appointment.
Just last month, an Oregon broker was targeted in his office and shot by a revenge seeking gunman.
A few weeks ago, northern Ohio agents were warned that a man was calling female agents for evening showing appointments, to possibly lure them into vacant homes and sexually assault them.
The sad list goes on.
Real estate can be a risky industry. Agents can often find themselves traveling alone, meeting with and showing properties to people that they don’t really know well or at all. There’s worries that violence against Realtors is on the rise. And it is not just women that are victimized. (check out his report)
What can you do to keep yourself safe? Though past violent incidents don’t always have a common thread, and there is no way to prevent every crime, agents should certainly take any step necessary to protect themselves.
- Take a self defense or martial arts class.
- Google new prospects prior to initial meetings to sniff out anything fishy if you can.
- Meet them for the first time in a public place, such as your office during business hours.
- Call or text someone to let them know where you’ll be and who you’ll be with showing properties.
- Use a tool such as Moby, which is a mobile app for your smartphone that can alert chosen contacts with a need for assistance and also tracks your location. And it’s FREE!
Do what you can to increase your awareness and fine tune your gut instincts. Please stay safe out there!
Megan Barber is a Real Estate Virtual Assistant, and owner of Barber Virtual Assisting Solutions. With over 12 years of experience working within the real estate industry, Megan provides top notch real estate support services such as marketing, lead follow-up, social media, WordPress websites, and more. She is also author of VA Mommy and Co-Founder of REVA Academy, a Real Estate VA Training program.