Showing Properties the Safe Way

On Saturday, a 54-year-old female agent in Ohio told police that two men stopped in front of a home for sale in North Ridgeville that she was getting ready to show. She had a brief conversation with the men, who asked for her business card. As the agent walked toward her car to retrieve a business card, one of the men allegedly grabbed the woman, according to police reports.

The woman told police that the men tried to pull her into their silver SUV, recalling that they said “get her in here” and “let’s go.” The agent was able to break free, run to her own car, and lock the doors. The two men then fled. Four days later, police arrested the suspects. The men are being held in Lorain County Jail, awaiting a court hearing on Thursday. The agent sustained bruises and cuts on her arm.

The incident is a reminder of the dangers real estate professionals face on the job. Real estate professionals are often isolated while showing homes, which can make them a prime target, Tammy Smith, manager at Russell Real Estate Services, told Cleveland 19 News. “Always use your gut feeling, and if it doesn’t feel right, it’s not right,” Smith said.

REALTOR® Safety Month, which is observed in September, kicks off this week with a monthlong awareness campaign about the dangers in real estate and reminders of precautions to take on the job. When you are showing a property, you can take these simple steps to empower yourself against attack or theft:

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.

In 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.

It is better to not display purses while at a property. 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. Besides, parked in a driveway, another vehicle could purposefully or accidentally trap you.