What Are The Dangers in Real Estate & How Do I Stay Safe?

Posted by Ryan Fitzgerald on Tuesday, June 9th, 2015 at 10:35am.

Raleigh Realty Dangers of Real Estate

The Dangers of Real Estate & Tips to Stay Safe

A recent new story has a lot of Realtors® on high alert. If you haven't been following the story, a St. Petersburg man posed as a fictitious character and had a Realtor meet him at a property. He then tied her up, and called her husband demanding a ransom. The police have since arrested and charged the man with the kidnapping and robbing.

Whether you’re a Realtor®, a buyer, or a seller, the Real Estate world can be a dangerous place. Every day we subject ourselves to dangers we may not even realize. In this post we will discuss the dangers that Realtors® face and provide safety tips to help keep them safe. For those of you who know a Realtor®, please make it a point to help keep them safe by sharing this article with them:

Raleigh Realty The Dangers of Real Estate Infographic


Raleigh Realty Danger Meeting New Clients

The Danger: How well do you know the clients you’re about to meet with? A lot of times these situations involve complete strangers coming together within the confines of a home. This poses a safety risk. If you don’t know the person you’re meeting with than you can’t be sure they aren’t a thief, stalker, criminal or worse.

How to stay safe:

  • Meet at the Office: If you’re meeting with a new client invite them to your office, whether it’s for a listing presentation or a buyers agent interview. Obviously a lot of people like to meet for the listing presentation inside the home of the owner. In this case we recommend you make sure to tell others where you will be and who you will be meeting with. Additionally, it doesn’t hurt to bring another Agent along for the appointment.
  • Ask for Identification: Asking for identification is not only a great tip for safety, it makes you appear professional and ensures you have information on the client correctly (name, address, etc.). We recommend using the “Realtor Prospect Identification Form,” it will help to keep you and your clients safe.
  • Introduce them to Coworkers: A great way to introduce your new clients to coworkers is to let them know that they will be working for them too. If you’re clients are selling their home with you as the listing agent introduce your colleague as someone who will be helping to find you a ready, willing, and able buyer! This demonstrates that there is a team of professionals working for them and it allows you to make a connection that will help keep you safe. If your new clients were criminals they’re not going to like all the evidence you’re gathering. 

Raleigh Realty Dangers of Vacant Homes

The Danger: A vacant or foreclosed upon home presents different types of dangers for Real Estate Agents. A vacant home can attract unwanted guests such as wildlife, bugs, or worse, squatters who refuse to leave the premises.

Realtor® Pat Steele has been in the business 37 years and shares her story about a close call she had

“I did what we’re taught to do,” Steele said. “I parked the car across the street from the house, walked in, unlocked all the doors, turned on all the lights to get ready for the client, and when I looked around, I was not alone in the home.” 

There is also the question of structural damage in the event that former owners or wildlife has damaged the property.

How to stay safe:

  • Squatters: Do not confront anyone who may be living in the building. You don’t know who they are or why they are there. Inform the authorities right away.
  • Exterior Damage: Proceed with caution when entering a vacant or foreclosed home. It’s recommended that you circle the property first to ensure no doors are damaged or windows have been shattered.

Raleigh Realty Danger Meeting With New Clients

The Danger: Although similar to the first two dangers this one poses a separate set of risks. Walking into a home alone of people you’re unfamiliar with is a risk Realtors® take every day. Walking into the home of strangers poses a different threat because you’re unfamiliar with the home and the people.

How to stay safe:

  • Don’t walk into the home alone, go with a partner or friend.
  • Call someone ahead of time and let them know who you are meeting with, where you will be, for how long, and that you will call them when you leave. If they don’t hear from you by a certain time, they should call you to make sure you’re ok.
  • Familiarize yourself with the neighborhood, the home, and the exits.
  • The more precautions you take the safer you will be.

Raleigh Realty Danger Showing Property Alone

The Danger: Showing properties alone to unfamiliar clients can be dangerous. It’s something Realtors® do almost on a daily basis. Realtor® Marlene Bertrand discusses her encounter with a convicted murderer. Everything appeared to be ‘ok’ on paper, and when she came back to the office she found out he was wanted for murder.

How to stay safe:

  • Make or Fake an Incoming Phone Call When You Walk In The Home: “Hi Ryan, I’m at 123 ABC Street showing client George Washington a property can I call you back in 20 minutes?” This lets the person know you just told someone where you are, who you are with, and that there is an expected time frame for a call back.
  • Stay away from confined spaces, and stay behind the clients: You should always keep yourself between your client and the exit. Robert Siciliano talks about Realtor® safety, including one Realtor who was cornered in a Master Bedroom closet when a ‘team’ of men entered the home.
  • Let others know where you are, when you’ll be back, and have an excuse to leave if ever you don’t feel comfortable with your circumstances.

Raleigh Realty Dangers of Open Houses

The Danger: It’s just that, an open house. Open houses have been one of the top places for attacks on Realtors.  You’re inviting everyone and anyone into a home. This is a common place for criminals to go through the home in search of valuable items they may be able to fit in their pockets, or worse.

How to stay safe:

  • Don’t go to an open house alone. Partner up with someone from your office. It’s a lot less likely a criminal will try to take on two people at once.
  • Listen to your instincts. Often times you will know right away if something doesn’t seem right.
  • Ask for identification immediately when someone walks into the home. This will ensure you know who the person is, and if a criminal can’t give you a fictitious name he will be a lot less likely to try anything.

Raleigh Realty Dangers of Provocative Marketing

The Danger: Provocative marketing is something that Realtors use to attract clients. You’re also attracting the wrong type of people as well. For Realtors who use provocative marketing you open yourself up to being a target.

How to stay safe:

  • The best way to stay safe is to avoid use of photography that is provocative. You’re selling homes, there is no need to use marketing photos that might make you a target. With that being said some Realtors are still going to use provocative marketing photos.
  • If you’re going to use provocative marketing photography you should make sure you are extra cautious when working with new clients. There is a strong chance criminals will go through Realtor profiles before they plan their attack. Jewelry, fancy cars, and other items are things criminals will target. 

Raleigh Realty Dangers of Driving with Strangers

Would you pickup a hitchhiker on the side of the road? Or if a stranger came up to you and asked you for a ride would you give them one?

The Danger: You’re in a confined space, with a stranger, inside of what’s probably an expensive vehicle. Yet Realtors® never see this as potentially dangerous. A number of times Realtors® have been held at gunpoint by a thief looking to steal money, jewels and a car.

How to stay safe:

Take separate vehicles: There is nothing wrong with saying you need to take separate cars as after showing the properties you have to get to your next appointment.  In the case you take one car, make sure you drive, and make sure you make or fake a cell phone call in front of the passenger before you leave.

Raleigh Realty Dangers of Showing Property at Night

The Danger: Without daylight it’s hard to see. This creates a perfect scenario for someone who is interested in not being seen. A lot of Realtors will work all hours of the day, however there is no need to be showing properties after dark.

How to stay safe:

  • In the winter time it will get dark early, especially in the north, so make sure you schedule your showings before dark.
  • Drive separately. It is not absolutely necessary for you to drive together with a new client, especially at night. Simply let them know you will be going home after the showing and would appreciate them driving their own car.
  • Park as close to the property as you can. If you have a long walk back to the car you create a larger opportunity for someone to approach you.
  • Flashlight. Keep a flashlight in your car if you’re going to show homes close to dark and bring it with you when showing property. Once you leave the property use the flashlight to guide you back to your car and be sure to check underneath it as well.

This post is designed to help keep my fellow Realtors® safe. It can be a dangerous profession because you typically work alone, and you are inviting strangers to view homes with you. Often people think ‘Oh that will never happen to me’ and that’s when you are most susceptible to something awful happening.

It’s important to protect yourself, your loved ones, and your family by ensuring you have safety strategies in place.

If at any time you feel as though you’re in an uncomfortable situation, or one that you don’t want to be in try to exit it and if you can’t than call the authorities immediately, don’t hesitate.

It’s important for all Real Estate Agents to be cautious in our professional lives. While we may not have the most dangerous job in the world, danger certainly presents itself every day, and it’s when we least expect it that we are most susceptible. 

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Ryan Fitzgerald Raleigh RealtyHi there! I'm Ryan Fitzgerald, a REALTOR in Raleigh-Durham, NC and the owner of Raleigh Realty. Chances are you and I share a similar passion, Real Estate! I also have a passion for technology, sports, and people. Would love to hear from you. Drop me a note in the comments section below and feel free to share this article socially!


3 Responses to "What Are The Dangers in Real Estate & How Do I Stay Safe?"

Trisha Desai wrote: Very well written unique tips. Each and every person who is associated with real estate must follow these tips & be safe in this dangerous world...

Cheers Trisha :)

Posted on Thursday, June 11th, 2015 at 6:57am.

Ryan Fitzgerald wrote: Cheers, Trisha! Thanks so much for your comment!

Posted on Thursday, June 25th, 2015 at 1:34pm.

Pendo wrote: Great article and infographic! Highly recommend that all new agents learn about these potential dangers. Thanks for putting this together!

Posted on Thursday, October 8th, 2015 at 8:06pm.

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