By my nature, I am a friendly person, never met a stranger and can ALWAYS strike up a conversation. I love meeting new people and finding out what they are about, how they live their life, what they enjoy and what we have in common. My career also dictates that I have this pre-determined outgoing nature - I mean, really? How can one sell Real Estate if they don't like meeting new people.
What may be one of my greatest assets could one day be my demise if I didn't adhere to my own personal "Code of Safety" and listen to my common sense. There are simple rules that I self-administer and well, quite frankly, if a Buyer or Seller can not appreciate them and/or respect them then we simply weren't meant for each other.
- I will NEVER respond to an email from a stranger and agree to meet them at a vacant home.
- I will NEVER respond to a phone call from a stranger and agree to meet them at a vacant house.
- I will NEVER host an Open House by myself.
- I will NEVER work with any buyer until there has been rapport established and identity verified.
- I will NEVER meet a COUPLE at a vacant home.
If a Buyer can not respect these wishes and rules of mine then perhaps they are better suited with another Realtor®. Keep in mind, though, I am not a bitch, I am just smart.
Recent cases of Unpleasant Realities*:
- St. Louis, MO - A man posing as a home buyer waited until he got a 24 year old real estate agent in an unfinished aprt of the basement and then pulled out a handgun. He handcuffed her and sexually assaulted her, at one point putting a knife to her throat. Afterward, he robbed her and warned her not to scream for help before leaving her alone in the new home she thought he wanted to buy.
- Liberty Township, OH - A man wearing a ski mask showed up at a model home. The on-site agent immediately asked the man to leave and closed the model home's door, but the agent later found the man standing inside the garage. The man grabbed her, but she fought him off and he fled the scene.
- Cary, NC - A man registered in a neighborhood's model home, then asked to see homes in the community. Once the agent had taken the man to another home in the development, the man pulled out a knife and attacked the agent. She was bound and sexually assaulted.
The incident in Cary NC, for those of you that don't know, was literally 10 minutes away from me. While many may always have the feeling "that could never happen here" - THINK AGAIN!
I would be remiss if I didn't also mention an incident that happened to my West Coast Sister, Cristal Drake. She was robbed at an Open House in July 2009. I'll never forget how I felt when I read her post - she really is my kindred and I just can't imagine. You can read about her unfortunate event at her blog post...... Be On The Lookout for These Open House Thieves! North Orange County Agents PLEASE READY!
I don't care if you are a SEASONED AGENT or NEW TO THE BUSINESS - NO SALE IS WORTH YOUR PERSONAL SAFETY! End of story and there really is no discussion needed. There are many tips that I could give as both an agent and a Broker-In-Charge.....
- ALWAYS have new clients meet you at your office or public place such as coffee shop, etc.
- When at all possible - have another agent go with you when working with new clients.
- If you get that icky feeling - ALWAYS go with your instincts!
- Have a code word set up between you and your office so that when you are out and about showing you can call your office and they will instantly know that you need help.
- ALWAYS leave an itinerary of where you are showing with either your BIC or another agent in the office.
- Keep you cell phone on you at ALL times! Have 911 programmed into speed dial.
- There are many "tools" that are available for protection now available nationwide through the various Association of Realtors® offices - explore them and find one that you are comfortable with.