Team, as we head into the winter months and shorter days we wanted to send out a reminder to always be safe while out showing homes, meeting new clients, and performing your daily routines as real estate professionals. Please make sure you are up-to-date on warnings of thefts, strange occurrences and safety notices in your area by reading through the current safety alerts published on the “Alerts” tab on your local MLS home page. Please put safety first and read these precautions to help make future showings as safe as possible:
- Be prepared. Find out as much as you can about new clients.
- Bring a flashlight to showings. It can be used to spotlight areas or as a weapon if needed.
- Use your cell phone for safety. Have emergency numbers readily available.
- Slow down. Stop being rushed, make time to plan ahead, and take extra precautions.
Real estate agents enjoy working with the public and have historically felt safe while performing their jobs, but the trend has shifted in recent years, with a number of agents raped, robbed and murdered while showing homes and other properties.
Real estate firms have responded to the violence by implementing procedures to help keep their agents safe. Here at The Cascade Team we offer Broker safety classes free for everyone every spring, but wanted to take this moment to remind you to be vigilant year-round.
Here are several things you can do to help minimize your risks while meeting clients and showing homes.
Verify Customer Information
Ask your customer for work, phone and cell phone numbers and a physical address. Ty to verify the information by calling the customer at one or more numbers.
If you cannot do that, enter the customer's home phone number or name, city and state on Google to see if you get a match.
Do not meet unknown customers at a property. Require that they come to your office and make sure someone writes down their license plate number and notes the type of car they are driving. It isn't out of line to ask to make a copy of customer driver's license.
Give someone in your office an itinerary of properties you plan to show and check in as often as possible by cell phone or ask someone at the office to call you occasionally. Work with others in your office to come up with a code phrase that alerts them when you are uncomfortable about a showing and a second phrase for emergency situations.
If you call and say those words, they'll know that someone should either head out to accompany you or call the police.
Never get into a car with someone you don't know. Use your vehicle for showings or ask your customer to follow you in another car. If you encounter a threatening situation while in your vehicle, hit the brakes to startle your attacker.
An alternative that some agent advocates recommend is to create a minor, slow speed accident in a public place by brushing up against a fixed object then open your door and run. If that's not possible, pull the car very close to an object on the right side so that your passenger cannot easily get out, then run. Be noisy create as much attention as possible to frighten your attacker.
More Real Estate Agent Safety Tips
- Carry a cell phone in your pocket and program it to dial 911 at the touch of a button
- Never work at a public open house by yourself
- Do not show vacant properties by yourself unless you know your customers
- Carry pepper spray or mace in your pocket, but be sure to get the type that can be aimed at a specific target (some are general and might affect you as much as they do your attacker)
- Let your customers enter a room while you stay by the door
- Pay attention to exits
Trust your instincts. Ask someone else to accompany you to show or list property if you feel uncomfortable about the people you are working with. Don't assume that women are safer customers, because they are as capable of armed robbery as a man and sometimes work with a partner who waits at the house for the two of you to arrive.
We want to keep all of you as safe as possible while you're showing real estate.
Here is a list of recent reports from the Western Washington area. I know for a fact that at least two of our agents have run into the fraudulent buyer named: Kris Kennedy and even wrote an offer for her now realizing she was a scammer.
August 28, 2014 - Please be aware of a fraudulent all-cash female buyer "Kris Kennedy" attempting to purchase multimillion dollar homes.
A member reported that keys and garage remote controls were recently stolen from a property in Shoreline while it was listed.
A man who has been casing houses in Lake Tapps was discovered to have moved into a member's vacant listing.
On Saturday, October 24, a member reported that an open house in West Seattle was visited by a man identifiable by tattoos on his neck.
Listed property owners in Woodinville are being visited by a couple who "just want to see the inside" of their homes.
A potentially dangerous man using the name "Aaron While" or "GM Goodrich" has threatened multiple real estate brokers in the Seattle Metro area while they were out looking at rental properties.
A member received a suspicious call warning her that two convicted felons were planning to abduct her while she was showing a home
Please be aware of a fraudulent buyer that is entering into purchase and sale contracts for high-end homes without any funds at closing. The fraudulent buyer often uses a similar story,
In the real estate business, you want to be approachable and welcoming when appealing to prospects and new clients. Here are four things you can do to...
Updated July 8, 2015 - Several female brokers in King County have received lewd and disturbing calls from a blocked number
If you are showing or previewing a home with animals, please remember to use caution, warn your buyers, and carefully follow the showing instructions.
An NWMLS member has reported an open house theft in the Lynnwood area. As we approach summer, it is important to remember some key tips.
Members in King County have reported suspicious activity from two men posing as potential buyers at open houses.
May 14, 2015. Members in Whatcom County have reported a suspicious man that has appeared at several open houses driving a blue Dodge Dart.
Updated, April 2, 2015 - ALERT: Eric was seen at an open house in Bothell. Members have reported that Eric has stolen drugs and other valuables that he can sell at pawn shops. Please read these stories for more information
A Woodinville listing was burglarized on Tuesday, March 17. Please follow these tips to help stop break-ins:
A member has reported being contacted by an elderly man in his 70's to come view his home.
March 6, 2015. Be on alert for a suspicious couple that have been prowling a higher-end home listed in the Kirkland area. "Linda", a red-haired women in her 30s,
March 2, 2015. A member has reported a suspicious man that is harassing a female broker with lewd and disturbing emails
January 30, 2015. Members have reported an increase in keybox thefts around the Puget Sound area.
Please be aware of a fraudulent buyer that is entering into purchase and sale contracts without any funds at closing. This man is using the name "Low Altitude LLC" on the contracts,
Updated January 28, 2015. Always use extreme caution with new clients and ask for a copy of their license before taking them or meeting them at a listing. A member notified NWMLS about a potentially dangerous man
December 23, 2014 - Be on alert for fraudulent foreign buyers involved in a series of real estate scams. Many scams involve all cash transactions,
Updated November 19, 2014 - Be on alert for a fraudulent buyer using the name "Hillary Wills" or "Hillary Stewart Walls". He is a convicted felon.
October 3, 2014 - NWMLS has been notified of a scam where the perpetrators seek to get the routing numbers for real estate transfers changed by contacting brokers directly.
September 16, 2014 - NWMLS has learned from its members that there have been numerous thefts during open houses throughout the Seattle metro area.
September 23, 2013 - Active residential listings are being posted by scam artists to a number of legitimate rental websites