REALTOR(R) safetly when showing houses: Are you scared?

Asked by Felix Hung, Huntington Beach, CA Thu Sep 30, 2010

There have been many recent attacks on real estate agents in the past few months involving kidnappings, murders, and rapes. Are you doing anything different when going to show REO homes or other vacant homes? Do you carry pepper spray or something else?

Help the community by answering this question:

+ web reference
Web reference:

Answers

16
J, Agent, Greensboro, NC
Fri Oct 1, 2010
BEST ANSWER
Most businesses have safety procedures to follow and being a real estate agent should be no different. I have no doubt that majority of agents are aware of this but may not see it as a priority in the course of their daily routine of doing business. Holding open houses are typically advertised through Internet, printed materials and signage. It would be wise to never underestimate the general public as they freely walk through the front door and tour the home. Inviting strangers into a house should immediately highten the safety factor and that should be the priority. A crime can take place in a matter of seconds.
1 vote
David Jaffe, Agent, Arlington Heights, IL
Fri Oct 15, 2010
Personal safety should always be of paramount concern to any Real Estate Agent, no matter where we are showing properties. Using a common sense approach while sitting Open Houses is always a good idea, like bringing another agent from your office to assist. When showing properties to someone you just met or called on a particular listing, it is always beneficial to meet at the office and qualify that person before taking them out.

On REO's or vacant properties, everyone should be mindful of homes that have been broken into, vandalized, or appear unsafe. An ounce of prevention, could prevent a tragedy!

Bring a Real Estate Partner...Don't take out anyone who appears suspicious... & DON'T enter a home that makes the hair stand up on the back of your neck! It's not worth the commission...to become a victim!

Be Safe Everyone...

David
1 vote
Vincent Vill…, Agent, Chula Vista, CA
Fri Oct 15, 2010
Havent been bringing any "weapons" to protect myself but it does get a little scary showing houses. I know one thing to do is especially if you are female let you office mananger / team mate know what houses you are showing and what client you are showing to before you leave the office.
1 vote
Gita Bantwal, Agent, Jamison, PA
Fri Oct 1, 2010
I usually go with another girl when I have to show vacant properties unless I know the buyers. Most of my buyers are referrals so I have no problem with showing them homes.
Web Reference:  http://www.gitabantwal.com
1 vote
Thomas Tolbe…, Agent, Savannah, GA
Fri Oct 1, 2010
I am particularly careful when showing REOs and any vacant properties because of possible squatters.
1 vote
Phyllis McAr…, Agent, San mateo, CA
Thu Sep 30, 2010
A broker in San mateo county who has a law inforcement history has given this trainning. He has given us some insight to very unusual senarios and what the dos and don'ts are. The trainning is a valuable tool to keep safe. The trainning also includes social networking pit falls that can be crucial to staying safe.
1 vote
Phyllis McAr…, Agent, San mateo, CA
Thu Sep 30, 2010
Yes, I actually do all of that.

4 Years ago, I held an open house in a not so desireable area. A guy walked in clearly not qualified to purchase a home. (He was pushing a shopping cart with all his belongings down the street.)

He walked in - I walked out. He came out onto the sidewalk and was confrontational with me....

14 Months ago a well dressed couple came into an open house and separated (home was not vacant) I told them both to freeze, (yes really) He said He needed to use the bathroom, I told him it was not working, She said she needed a drink of water, I told them the plumbing was not working, they both left. They were arrested several days later for stealing a Realtor's purse at an independent office (On a Saturday when there was hardly anyone there) . They pulled the same scam, they separated, under the pretense of bathroom....drink of water...
1 vote
Phyllis McAr…, Agent, San mateo, CA
Thu Sep 30, 2010
When showing a home, it's important to meet the potential buyers prior to the showing. There's no good reason to show a home in the evening. Your buyers will want to see the neighborhood and that's impossible at night.

Whether it's an REO or a regular sale safety precautions are a crucial part of this business. I once showed an REO where another agent left the door unlocked for thier buyers to just walk in! When I showed up they were just waundering around the home without thier agent. And they had a toddler with them. I called the police anyway. They showed up in 90 seconds.

Keeping yourself safe is not that difficult.

1) NEVER just go show your listing (or any other properties) to someone you don't know
2) Open houses shold be done in pairs. Example: Have a lender with you
3) At open houses Always have local PD on speed dial. If the home is in a dubious neighborhood ask local PD to do a couple of drive bys, (they are happy to do it)
4) Open houses should have at least 2 places to escape in case some nutcase shows up.
5) Pepper spray will only tick off a would be attacker
6) Don't think making a sale is more important than your life
1 vote
Phyllis McAr…, Agent, San mateo, CA
Fri Oct 15, 2010
Last week a person called to see my listing. I asked him to meet me at my office first, he said no, I said bye.
0 votes
Bonicelli De…, , 30064
Fri Oct 1, 2010
As a photographer, I had never been scared, until recently.... I started doing vacant properties in "not so great" areas. For the first time in my life, I was truly terrified at the last house I went to. There were guys on the porch across the street yelling inappropriate comments at me and I started to have a panic attack. I called an agent friend of mine and kept her on my cell the whole time.

I have honestly thought about carrying a taser just to have when I am an a situation that I feel worried. Not that I would have the guts to use it, but be ready just in case.
0 votes
Annette Law…, Agent, Palm Harbor, FL
Fri Oct 1, 2010
Letting one's paranoia run amok may not be the best approach. I can not believe every real estate agent is not aware of the dangers of going ANYWHERE or doing ANYTHING --- ALONE!

It has been my experience that if those you are dealing with understand others know you are with them, they fully realize they are not unknown and can be found. If I choose to respond to a 'curb side' call, I will make certain the buyer overhears me report via cell phone that I am currently with, "Bod and Sue Smith, license # b1b 2m2 (FL-Pinellas)." The only comments I've ever heard was, "We're so glad you take precautions to keep safe."

When it comes to open houses, we simply have to stop doing those old fashioned ones. When conducting an Event Open House,I let attendees know when they walk in, the only purpose of the open house is to allow the visitor to decide if they want to schedule a more complete showing. PERIOD. No, there is no wandering around, opening cabinets or drawers. They are with event staffers and are shepherded through the home. 15 minutes and they are out! After all, how long does it take to know if the home is too big, too small or outside of their price range? It is at the event station or tent that all the real magic takes place. Open Houses, using this concept, are never conducted alone.
0 votes
Felix Hung, Agent, Huntington Beach, CA
Thu Sep 30, 2010
Phyllis, who provides this training? Do share...I'm curious.

Mack, well...it depends on your perspective. It used to be half a dozen televised crimes...now this year with the bad economy, it looks like activities have picked up. There was a case here in CA where an agent was killed two months ago, there were the two in Ohio in the news now...and another case I read about in the last few weeks when I was searching the news for something else.

Caroline, my military background makes me always cautious. Most times I'll have something in my hand that could be used as a weapon: pen, flashlight, umbrella.

In the instances I've heard of, they were all lookin' for an easy target.
0 votes
Caroline Choi, Agent, Los Angeles, CA
Thu Sep 30, 2010
Hi Felix, you know -- I do walk into some pretty scary houses sometimes, but I don't really do anything different, other than be cautious about my surroundings. Usually I'm not entering vacant homes without my clients, but if I am, I just try to be on heightened awareness about whether or not something feels out of place. If a door's wide open and it should be locked up -- definite red flag.

Best,
Caroline
0 votes
Phyllis McAr…, Agent, San mateo, CA
Thu Sep 30, 2010
Actually, we have training on many ways that scams take place, NONE of which have been posted here. The situations listed are small time rookie stuff compared to the real problems.

to assume we would give ideas/tips in these posts to would be bad guys would be rediculous.

Keep calm? Oh alright.......You try wearing panty hose and a pair of designer pumps to an open house AND watch your back. Did I mention it's really hot out and I have on a lovely silk suit?
0 votes
Mack McCoy, Agent, Seattle, WA
Thu Sep 30, 2010
Many? Really?

Let's try to keep calm, OK? And let's not give the bad guys any tips on how to catch us with our guard down, either!
0 votes
Felix Hung, Agent, Huntington Beach, CA
Thu Sep 30, 2010
Phyllis,

So you do all of that? I personally always have my clients walk in front of me - first meeting or after several dozen meetings and I am always conscious of the exits.

Also, with squatters in foreclosures, I used to carry a flashlight and was always cautious.

We're lucky here in CA for being able to show during daylight, but our colleagues in other parts of the country don't have that luxury of just showing homes during the day. In Washington State and on the east coast the sun sets at 4:30-5:30 in the winter time. Good tips, thanks for the response.
0 votes
Search Advice
Search
Ask our community a question

Email me when…

Learn more