Last week a listing in Willow Glen was robbed of all staging furniture in the middle of the night. A few weeks ago REALTOR® Magazine reported that the Pacific West Association of REALTORS®, based in Anaheim, Calif., issued a warning to its members to be on alert after a real estate agent and a potential home buyer were robbed at gunpoint by two men during an open house.

REALTORS® are targets of crime because their work exposes them to many unfamiliar people. According to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics, since the foreclosure crisis began in 2008, more real estate professionals have been attacked and even killed while on the job.

The 2011 Realtor Safety Report, a study conducted by AgBeat, Moby and S.A.F.E. (Safety Awareness Firearms Education), indicates the past year saw a rise in crime against REALTORS®, marked by an increase in robberies, sexual assaults and even murders. In most cases, assaults against REALTORS® took place when the victim was alone. The most common guise for getting an agent alone was requesting a tour or meeting the agent in a vacant home.

It is always good for REALTORS® to regularly visit the National Association of REALTORS® REALTOR® Safety website at www.REALTOR.org/Safety and review safety tips. Below are some safety tips to keep in mind.

Showing Properties the Safe Way
• Be sure to use the lockbox property-key procedure that has been established to improve real estate agent safety. A reliable, secure lockbox system ensures keys don’t fall into the wrong hands.

• 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.

• Try and call the office once an hour to let people know where you are.

• If you think it may be some time before a property sells (and you may, therefore, be showing it often), get acquainted with a few of the immediate neighbors. You will feel better knowing they know your vehicle, and they will feel better about the stranger (you) who frequently visits their neighborhood.

• Prepare a scenario so that you can leave, or encourage someone who makes you uncomfortable to leave. Examples: Your cell phone or beeper went off and you have to call your office; you left some important information in your car; or another agent with buyers is on his way.

• When showing a property, always leave the front door unlocked for a quick exit while you and the client are inside. As you enter each room, stand near the door.

• Lock your purse in the car trunk before you arrive. Carry only non-valuable business items (except for your cell phone), and do not wear expensive jewelry or watches, or appear to be carrying large sums of money.

• Park at the curb in front of the property rather than in the driveway. You will attract much more attention running and screaming to the curb area. It is much easier to escape in your vehicle if you don’t have to back out of a driveway. Also, if you are parked in a driveway, another vehicle could purposefully or accidentally trap you.

(Sources: Louisiana REALTORS® Association; Washington Real Estate Safety Council; City of Albuquerque, NM; Nevada County Association of REALTORS®; City of Mesa, AZ)

 

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