Yes that title is awful and yes you should be offended. Real estate agents often find themselves in dangerous situations. And for 20 years, I’ve been screaming this, doing something about it, and it keeps happening. And the real estate agents and industries response?
Thots and prayers. Thots and prayers. Thots and prayers. Thots and prayers.
How’s that workin’ for ya?
Sometimes you have to visit unsafe neighborhoods, you might have to come face to face with a vicious dog, or even have an unsavory character walk right into an open house.
In 2016, approximately 3% of all real estate agents reported that they were physically attacked when on the clock. Though this might seem like a small number, you have to consider that only about 2% of the entire population of the country are physically attacked each year. This means, of course, that if you are a real estate agent, your odds of assault are higher than the average person.
Remember, no one is immune to this. Here’s a brief first person account posted to Facebook about a real estate agents experience…and it could even be you:
“Another reason why I like running my real estate business by referral: Went to meet a female seller today who contacted me on-line. She told me she would meet me at her property as it is an occupied rental. She was there and so were about four guys. Small, cramped house. She told me the tenant would take me around as he knew the house better than her…. immediately I knew something was off.
He takes me around the first floor then he’s showing me upstairs and another guy who wasn’t one of the four downstairs appears out of nowhere and stands behind me. I’m now seriously freaking out as instinct told me something was about to happen. I made my excuses quick and went back downstairs. I put aside my manners and took out my phone and while chatting briefly with the seller, I text my location to my team. Then I left.
My 5ft 100lb self would have been no match for them.
I realized mid-way through that 10 minute tour that no-one knew where I was, I had no idea who these people were and if this woman actually was who she said she was.
Point of the story: realtors please be extra vigilant when being in homes of strangers. I know it sounds obvious yet it’s not as we are simply doing ‘our job’ and we can’t do that if we don’t visit other people’s homes. This ended well yet it could have been a very different story for me today. Stay safe and trust your instinct.”
The seller was a female, and the seller said that she would meet the agent at the property, as it was a rental and currently occupied. When the agent arrived, she saw the seller along with four men in a small, cramped house. The seller, herself, would not give the agent a tour of this home; instead, she said one of the tenants would take her.
Almost instantly, the agent knew something was weird about this. One of the men took the agent to the second floor, and before she knew it, there was another man directly behind her…and this man was NOT one of the men she had seen downstairs.
This was a very scary situation, and though this story did not end in disaster, plenty of these situations, do. Be smart, stay vigilant, and trust your instincts when something seems off.
Here are 10 tips that you can use to keep yourself from ending up a dead real estate agent:
- Research – Before you meet with a potential buyer, make sure to do a little research. This might be as simple as doing a Google search on them, or you can create a questionnaire to get information from them.
- Get an ID – Ask for the ID of any potential buyer/seller before showing the home. You should be able to get a photo of their ID and keep it on your phone and text it to a colleague just in case. If they refuse, this is a red flag.
- Show During Daylight Hours – Only show a home during daylight hours.
- Bring a Buddy – Do you have an assistant, friend, or family member who wants to keep you safe? Bring them along. When showing a home, try to bring a buddy. Make sure the buyer/seller knows that this other person is coming.
- Know What You are Going Into – Do your best to get a lay of the land when going into a home for the first time. Ask if there is anyone else in the home, too.
- Stay Near Exits – Make sure when you are showing a home, or being shown and home, that you always have an eye on the exit. Also, don’t go into any area, such as a basement, where someone couldn’t hear you if you had to yell for help. Unless you bring a buddy, and allow the buyer to take a look on their own, if necessary.
- Don’t Let Your Guard Down – Any person who walks into a home is a potential “bad guy/gal.” Don’t let your guard down, even if they seem like they are an upstanding citizen.
- Advertise Smartly – When advertising, make sure to do so smartly. Make sure that people know that viewing the home is by appointment only and that you will be checking their ID before showing the home.
- Dress Appropriately – Don’t wear any expensive jewelry when showing a home, and make sure to dress in a professional manner. Wearing clothing that is revealing, for instance, can send the wrong message.
- Trust Your Gut – Finally, trust your gut. If something seems wrong, it probably is.
Robert Siciliano personal security and identity theft expert and speaker is the author of Identity Theft Privacy: Security Protection and Fraud Prevention: Your Guide to Protecting Yourself from Identity Theft and Computer Fraud. See him knock’em dead in this Security Awareness Training video.