Realtor Risks

February 26, 2008 9:31:41 AM PST
Because fewer homes are selling these days in North Carolina, there's increasing pressure on realtors to make deals.

But real estate agents are reminding themselves to take extra care in preventing attacks by people posing as buyers. After all, it's their job to meet strangers at empty houses and take strangers in their cars. That's why realtors are coming up with safety programs to guard against danger.

"I'm a big believer in your gut, if something doesn't feel right you better listen," says Mary Edna Williams. For twenty-two years she has been trusting those gut feelings to keep her safe while working as a realtor in Raleigh.

"It is a real concern because you're probably in a more vulnerable position than most other types of employment," says Mary Edna.

She says it's easy to get caught up in the prospect of a sale and forget that the buyer might have other intentions.

"When you're a brand new agent you're real tempted, you're excited that somebody's called and oh you're going to get to show a house and you want to just run out and meet them and that is the worst thing you can do," says Mary Edna.

Realtors do run into problems while on the job. In 2001, a realtor was attacked and locked in a bathroom in Wake Forest while the attacker broke into her car and stole her purse.

In 2005, a realtor was shot near Raeford while showing a man a home.

An eyewitness described the scene for us at the time, "She was just sitting on her hands and knees holding her stomach I didn't know she was shot until I she laid on the ground until she turned over and that's when I seen the blood."

Fortunately, the realtor recovered.

Earlier this month, a realtor was murdered in Canada. Someone asked 24-year-old Lindsay Buziak to show her upscale homes. Instead, Canadian police say the caller lured her to a home near Victoria where someone stabbed her to death.

One of Buziak's friends told a Canadian television station, "I'm just in complete utter shock, even right now this doesn't seem like it's reality. It seems like this is a bad dream and I'm going to wake up and she'll be here."

The North Carolina Association of Realtors has put together this brochure with tips to keep agents safe.

When showing property it recommends agents make a copy of the buyer's drivers license, tell a coworker about their appointment and rather than leading the buyer, follow them through the house leaving an open escape route.

The National Association of Realtors has even produced an online self defense video.

Back in the Triangle, Mary Edna Williams takes extra care every time she shows a house to new buyer. Before she goes anywhere with a new client she verifies their personal information and while showing houses she always has safety on her mind.

"I am always between that buyer and the door to get out," says Mary Edna. She continued, "I have my cell phone in my hand and I have my car keys and my car keys have the panic button on it, because if you have that, at least you can hit that button and the alarm's going to go off in your car and if anybody's in the neighborhood they're going to know that something has happened in that house?. No sale, no possible sale is worth your safety."


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