“Warning You Need to Heed Any Suspicious Actions” is a sign that could well be highly visible in any real estate office in North America.
Why? Being a REALTOR® can be dangerous and potentially life-threatening if proper precautions aren’t taken and an individual fails to follow his/hers basic instincts.
WinnipegREALTORS® was reminded of this stark reality when two events occurred in the second weekend in January.
First, the media reported Joseph Davis, who had sexually assaulted a female REALTOR® on December 28, 2007, was sentenced to eight years in prison. Fortunately, the REALTOR® was able to act quickly and took aggressive action to thwart her attacks and escape from his apartment.
To lure an unsuspecting REALTOR® into a harmful situation, Davis posed as a wealthy buyer promising to make a big-ticket purchase. His real intent was to assault the REALTOR®.
This same weekend on an early Sunday afternoon, a male REALTOR® was called out by a man named John saying he wanted to sell his home. When the REALTOR® arrived at the property later that afternoon, he was immediately suspicious and thought something was not quite right. When he approached the door and John opened it up, the alleged homeowner said he wanted to take a further look outside around the house. At this point, John tried to lock the REALTOR® inside the home. Using force, the REALTOR® was able to get out of the property and did file a police report the next day.
WinnipegREALTORS® also called the police as a follow-up to this incident and were told they would send a cruiser car out to check out the suspicious address.
The REALTOR® who was attacked called his paging service to warn all members of the address so they would not come into harm’s way. When WinnipegREALTORS® was advised of the incident the next day, they sent a message out to all to all of its 1,500 members, giving them details of the incident including the address so they would avoid it.
It was reported by some other members that they had also received calls from John with a similar request to come out and check out the property he wanted to sell.
Later, a broker called the association to inform them that one of their female REALTORS® was being targeted by a suspicious male buyer. When she talked about meeting the alleged buyer at a neutral place and getting proper identification before she would show him a property, he lost interest right away. The broker provided whatever information she had so that other REALTORS® could be warned about the suspicious buyer.
As in Winnipeg and other cities across North America, REALTORS® and /or new home agents have been killed on the job. In 2001, 21 real estate professionals were murdered while working. Others have been raped, beaten and robbed.
Some of the tips provided to REALTORS® include:
• Always keep your phone charged and on your person before going on a call.
• Let someone know who you are with, where you are going and when you will be back.
• When you meet a new client meet them in your office and verify their identification e.g. get a copy of their drivers license. You should also get the make and model of their car with their licence plate number.
• Don’t wear expensive jewelry, avoid glamour shots and be guarded with personal information
• Always take your own car to showings.
• Have a distress code.
• Utilize technology.
• If your instincts say, “No,” listen!
And it is not just REALTORS® that should be taking proper precautions to protect themselves. Private sellers have been set up and harmed as well.
WinnipegREALTORS® takes REALTOR® safety very seriously and continues to remind its members to protect themselves while on the job.
Personal safety sessions with former police officers and safety experts are held annually to provide tips for new entrants to the industry, as well as provide a reminder to veterans who may be letting their guard down after years of having no troubling incidents. As the saying goes, it’s better to be safe than sorry.