Diary Entry from Ground Zero: BE SAFE!

Services for Real Estate Pros with Savvy Home Pix B.1000860.LLC

Hey guys I want to remind you about safety as I encountered a squatter in a foreclosed home today.  Yes, I just about tinkled my drawers!  I didn't have my pepper spray on me either as I took it out of my purse to go on the plane last week.  I announced sternly "GOOD AFTERNOON, REALTOR HERE" as I always do when I open the door.  I heard nothing and we proceeded in.  Windows and the slider were open and I screamed at the top of my lungs "GOOD AFTERNOON" and someone screamed back "GOOD AFTERNOON." 

 We bolted and I called the list agent to alert them that there was a squatter.  There was a truck parked in the driveway but it is typical for neighbors to park in foreclosed home driveways.  Just look for telltale signs of squatter droppings:  cars parked in driveways, windows open, sliders unlocked, blankets, pillows, empty bottles of 40s etc.  I have seen signs of squatters before and swear that some slip in the attic while I am showing but never encountered one.  Just be careful out there AND DO NOT SHOW AFTER DARK!  This was broad daylight!

Hawley's glock idea is not a bad one (as we laughed yesterday) and now the stun gun situation or even maybe a concealed weapon permit is NOT a bad idea.   Although ~ my husband declares me too psycho to carry a gun.

Also had 2 houses with rocks through windows, one of them the complete kitchen was missing, including cabinets. 

Had several showings with keys missing in lockboxes ON ONE STREET.  Luckily my brokerage provides me with survival skills and tools to be able to access these homes, THANK YOU NVRS!  I guess agents are back to the old games of stealing the keys.   I am mentally exhausted after today's challenges but I got two contracts done late from it!

Make SURE you notify the list agent if you ever see any unusual activity in homes - rocks through windows, stolen goods (like entire kitchens,) missing keys and most importantly SQUATTER droppings!

It's a crazy existence selling real estate in the Las Vegas area right now, folks.  I see lots of things but never encountered so much in one day.  A little overload if you will!  Be safe!  These were newer homes in decent neighborhoods.

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Thanks,  Renée Burrows 702-580-1783 Broker/Owner, REALTOR®


copyright 2006-2013 Renee Burrows, REALTOR®, Savvy Home Realty Solutions  702-966-2494

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Re-Blogged 2 times:

Re-Blogged By Re-Blogged At
  1. Yvette Gardner 03/26/2009 03:01 AM
  2. Jean Terry 03/26/2009 08:00 AM
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Daren Krause
Keller Williams Realty - Austin, TX

I am glad that you are safe and trusted your instincts to get out of there.  Still, I'm wondering if it was the former owner of the house in an act of civil disobedience.  Check out this video: "This is our house now"

Weird, wild stuff...

That said, NAR's "Field Guide to Safety" is worth a periodic review as well.  Safety first, people always.

Mar 26, 2009 01:44 PM #63
Joan Whitebook
BHG The Masiello Group - Nashua, NH
Consumer Focused Real Estate Services

We are fortuntate that we haven't seen this in New Hampshire.  I have seen some houses pretty trashed, moldy and smelly, but no squatters.  Be safe!

Mar 26, 2009 01:48 PM #64
Roland Woodworth
Q Realty - Clarksville, TN
Q Realty - Power In Real Estate

Renee: We can never talk about Realtor safty enough.. Good to hear that all is fine in this case.

Mar 26, 2009 03:16 PM #65
Roland Woodworth
Q Realty - Clarksville, TN
Q Realty - Power In Real Estate

Renee: We can never talk about Realtor safty enough.. Good to hear that all is fine in this case.

Mar 26, 2009 03:16 PM #66
Charles Stallions
Charles Stallions Real Estate Services - Pensacola, FL
800-309-3414 - Pensacola, Pace or Gulf Breeze, Fl.

We have all seen the safety tips from NAR and are good ideas to follow at all times. Never meet anyone at a vacant home, holler as you enter any vacant homes and have a back up plan as you seem to have.

Mar 26, 2009 03:40 PM #67
Patricia Kennedy
Redfin - Washington, DC
Home in the Capital

Rene, pretty scary stuff!  Even if the squatters are sweet, harmless people, I'd rather not encounter them!

Mar 26, 2009 03:45 PM #68
Emily Lowe
The Lipman Group | Sotheby's International Realty - Nashville, TN
Nashville TN Realtor

I run into them occasionally as well and they scare me! There are usually signs of "concoctions" in the kitchen and I flee the scene immediately.  We are living in desperate times in the US right now and we cannot be too careful!

Mar 26, 2009 04:07 PM #69
Kathleen Lordbock
Keller Williams Realty Professionals - Baxter, MN
Keller Williams Realty Professionals

I have started taking someone with me and that is really unusual for me - but it is wise (also unusual for me  LOL)

Mar 26, 2009 04:12 PM #70
Christine Donovan
Donovan Blatt Realty - Costa Mesa, CA
Broker/Attorney 714-319-9751 DRE01267479 - Costa M

I think there's going to be more of this to see as this market sorts itself back to normalcy.

Mar 26, 2009 04:59 PM #71
Joetta Fort
The DiGiorgio Group - Arvada, CO
Independent Broker, Homes Denver to Boulder

He sounded like a nice squatter at least, responding politely to your, "Good afternoon!"  I like the big dog idea.

Mar 26, 2009 05:12 PM #72
Wayne Johnson
Coldwell Banker D'Ann Harper REALTORS® - San Antonio, TX
San Antonio REALTOR, San Antonio Homes For Sale

Some say real estate is an exciting profession. That's a bit too exciting. Glad you were alert and unharmed.

Mar 26, 2009 10:58 PM #74
Ann Cordes
Century 21 Randall Morris and Associates, Waco - Waco, TX
Home Ownership is Not a Distant Dream


It is not only foreclosures. Inthe fall of 2007, a builder here in Waco went in to a new construction and was attacked by a soldier AWOL from FT Hood, about an hour from here. He took of in the builders pickup and was quickly caught.

     But they believe he had been hidig in there for almost 2 weeks. And many female agents had been there, sometimes alone! The builder was a large man who was able to defend himself. I shudder to think what could have happened to one of the women. 

Mar 27, 2009 01:18 AM #75
Renée Donohue~Home Photography
Savvy Home Pix - Allegan, MI
Western Michigan Real Estate Photographer

Julie:  Not a bad idea!  I have entered hundreds (maybe over a thousand) homes in the last year and had yet to encounter a living being!  Oh I take that back.  I encountered a cat about a month ago probably entering through doggie door.  ALA Fresh Step party style!


Michael E:  I just want everyone to be aware and safe!

Tony:  HMMMM that sounds interesting !

Kris:  Same.  I enter plenty by myself for previewing or BPO reasons too.  I have seen evidence that someone is around so now I will courtesy call list agents to let them know.

Maggie:  LOL!  Be careful in FL too!  I know you guys have just as many REO

Mike H:  LOL @ Rent Collections via taser!


Charlene:  Realtors steal keys because they have clients who like the property and want to write an offer.  That prevents other Realtors from showing the properties and doing the same.  Luckily I have some master keys and know lots and lots and lots of mechanical codes in my head by agent and by servicing company ;)

Patricia:  Crazy enough I have walked into just foreclosed unsecured homes by myself!

Tom B:  Lars would be a perfect companion for me.  He probably weighs more than me!

Richard:  And checking up on them on a regular basis!

Terrie:  YES!  I can laugh now.  My husband was mortified with questions "who were you with, what did you do, blah blah blah."  He is never really concerned about me since I am a big girl and can handle so many situations on my own so it was nice for once.

Mark M:  You are welcome

Yvette & Dennis:  Like you I have only seen signs and heard stories!  We all need constant reminders about safety!

Harrison:  Very true, they are just looking for a place to crash BUT you never know!

Larry S:  Yes I have encountered those that don't want to show any proof they can buy a home (preapproval or VOF.)  They get shuffled on to my boyz and never return calls.

Herb:  OMG!

Mary S:  YES!  My car doors lock automatically as my car transmission gets put in "drive".  I even have reservations about driving with windows down many times.

Melissa:  True story, LOL!

Andrea:  That advice makes me scared in and of itself.  I don't know that I could be prepared to live with those consequences.  I wanted to be a doctor but couldn't use a scalpel or administer a shot. 

Brien:  Great idea.  Never thought twice about it until this incident. 

Andrew:  Writing is therapeutic to me.  I was not non-chalant when I was hyperventilating and my clients had to calm me ;)

Heather:  Hopefully your partner checks them on a regular basis!!

Ila:  Great tips, thanks for sharing!

Erica:  BINGO!

Russell:  Maybe you men just shouldn't challenge authority :tongue in cheek:

Christine B:  DO NOT PASS GO OR COLLECT $200!  Get some new pepper spray!  Glad this post made you check!

Greg:  Never thought about the pepper spray for dogs too, splendid idea!

Kelly:  THANK YOU FOR SAYING THAT IN REGARDS TO LA's!  There were leaflets outside of the house so not many signs of entry from the entrance.  Just the back door at that!

Craig:  With my tongue firmly planted in my cheek, I didn't stick around to interview the dude.  I hear what you are saying in regards to the economic times.  I am a very compassionate person and I always wonder after I cross situations like this what happened and why.  I wonder that after I view a recently foreclosed home.  I wish walls could talk.  I know many people doing what they can by living with extended family.  I know one family that has a house of grandma, mom and hub, son and wife, daughter (grown and single) and 7 children to share expenses.  We all need to reach out to our friends and family that may be in distress and grow closer to the ones we love because they may not be telling us something.  There are no trespassing signs on vacant and foreclosed homes.  There was one on this home.  I know we are all doing what we have to in order to survive but I believe we have to keep our morals and ethics and not break the law.  My husband and I just had that discussion last night as we are all fighting for survival.  I know that there are some people who are mentally and emotionally incapable of doing such.  It's the way we are wired.  Different story for a different time however!

Heather:  What's odd is we did that the day before.  My partner had a walk through in a not so great part of town and we all checked in w/ each other at the end of the day!

Jeanna:  Very unexpected with everything I saw yesterday!  Like I said, I can handle one or two issues but not a day of such issues!

Christina B:  YES!

Brian:  I know you saw the interest in me when you and Deborah explained what you did!  Very interesting and definitely could be something fun for hub and I to get involved in!

Christine W:  That's exactly what I have - the pepper spray pen!!

Linda:  Same here.  I have also walked into unsecured property at the butt crack of dawn.  It is habit for me to scream "GOOD :insert time of day" REALTOR HERE" and then listen for movement.

Suzanne:  Reminders of safety never hurt!  Thanks for stopping by!

Jean:  I will be even more careful now!  Stay safe!

Tim:  Now that you have said that, I unarmed the alarm when I walked in.  It wasn't functional but gave the flatline BEEP when I walked in!

Robert:  Thanks for the feature.  I have a BA leaving the country for 3 weeks soon and I need someone soon!  We do need to figure out a time to sit down!

Dawn:  OH MY!  I don't think that any of the above activity I described has any economic borders!

Kristina P:  Thanks for your comment and stopping by!

Chris O:  One of my most recent favorites was my client climbing in the attic because they were suspicious about something.  Used their Iphone and took pictures of bundles and bundles of electric, telephone and CAT wire that was pulled up through the walls!

Kristi D:  DO IT!

Norma:  Could be!  I really like Tom's idea of going with a German Shepherd.  Thumbs up for that one!

Lisa G:  I will check out that taser story!  My partner did a walk through a 4 plex just the night before but it was with a big guy.  We both checked on each other at the end of the day!

Chris S:  Yes, was an overwhelming day.  I couldn't sleep that night so my husband let me sleep in today!

Rebecca:  No doubt about squatters!

Bob & Carolin:  YES WE do all need to be careful!!

Joe P:  For that reason, I always lock the door behind me which now I wonder if that is safe to do since I actually encountered someone in case I needed to escape.  I do this because a creepy guy (same situation) did the same thing once!

Missy:  You are very welcome and thanks for stopping by!

Daren:  Thanks for sharing those resources!

Roland:  KUDOS!

Charles:  True true true!

Patricia:  YES!  My family members scare the snot out of me at times in the house too if they are too quiet!

Emily:  Concoctions, YIKES!  I can honestly say that I haven't run into that, Now I will ...LOLOL!

Kathleen:  I hear you about it being unusual.  On occassion my son will be in the car with me on a BPO and he will enter it with me.  Otherwise I don't know if it is highest and best use of time.  I guess it would be if it saves lives!

Christine D:  No doubt!

Joetta:  YES!  At least he responded in kind (the second time!)  I love Tom's idea too.  I don't know how well my Italian Greyhounds would feel about me employing a German Shepherd (like Tom's)

Pete:  Not a bad idea!

Wayne:  I hear you on that in regards to it being a BIT too exciting!

Ann:  The thefts happen in new construction here too.  Appliances are not regularly delivered prior to close and if they are, doors and knobs are taken off and then put on after close.

Mar 27, 2009 06:01 AM #76
Sheldon Neal
Bergen County, NJ - RE/MAX Real Estate Limited - Maywood, NJ
That British Agent Bergen County NJ

.... ahem ! ... you skipped the handsome dude in comment number #38 ??!??!?!?!! LOLOL

Mar 27, 2009 08:29 AM #77
Carrie Sampron
Home Smart Realty Group - Highlands Ranch, CO
ABR SFR & Kathy Sampron (303) 931-3629 Highlands R

Carrie and Kathy SampronRenee:  I had a similar experience on a foreclosed property but we were lucky and whoever was squatting wasn't there at the time.  I also called the listing agent to let them know and never heard back, hope it all worked out for them. 

Be careful!!

Mar 27, 2009 10:19 AM #78
Sonya Loose
Modern Realty - Beaverton, MI
Helping Buyers & Sellers of Waterfront Property

Renee- I work with many bank owned properties and enter them before they are on the market...talk about scary!  I have encountered evidence of one squatter but thankfully not the squatter in person.  You are right to remind us all to be safe and I am sure your nerves were rattled when you were finally done for the day!

Mar 29, 2009 11:13 AM #79
Greg Knowles Santa Barbara Ca.
Fidelity National Title Group-Santa Barbara - Santa Barbara, CA

Renee, I'm a little late to this party, but all I want to say is be safe!

Mar 31, 2009 06:35 AM #80
Christina Ethridge
The North Idaho Dream Team powered by SKE Realty Group - Coeur d'Alene, ID

Both hubby and I carry - he has his CCW and I'm getting mine shortly. We are going through more and more training just for instances like these.

Apr 03, 2009 10:14 AM #81
Respect Realty LLC
Respect Realty LLC - Milwaukie, OR
Brokers - Oregon / SW Washington Real Estate

I have not run into that yet and I'm really glad, now I have run into the teenagers breaking in and using it as a party house, but I'm not sure I would want an answer back on a vacant home when I yelled... Anyone home?


Apr 04, 2009 07:03 PM #83
Renée Donohue~Home Photography
Savvy Home Pix - Allegan, MI
Western Michigan Real Estate Photographer

Sheldon:  The dude was so cute that I must have skipped over him ;) FYI, it is very sobering!

Carrie & Cathie:  ABSOLUTELY!

Sonya:  VERY mentally exhausted!

Greg:  Call it fashionably late ;)

Christina:  NEVER HURTS!

Anthony:  Did you have a garage sale?  LOL!

Todd:  You don't, especially with a full bladder !

Apr 12, 2009 06:04 AM #84
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