Safety Steps for Women Realtors - Don't Make Yourself a Target!

Real Estate Agent with West Michigan Real Estate Specialist-Five Star Real Estate

                                                Safety Steps for Women Realtors - Don't Make Yourself a Target!

I have not been in the Rain for a while.  After being gone for a while I have to tell you,  what I really want to do is write about how my daughter just took the honors of top student web designer in the nation.  But I felt this was more important.  Oddly enough, there have been many times I started writing this but it just seemed there was always something else more important.  Then it became to close for comfort . . .  .

Women Being assultedWhether we want to admit it or not, women are sometimes at a serious disadvantage.  It has nothing to do with knowledge about the intricacies of real estate.  It has nothing to do with the fact that we have to take time off to have babies.  Women, I believe, are pretty much equals with men in real estate with one huge exception.  It was the way God created us, but we are smaller and for the most part will never have the power that a man has.  Unfortunately, there are men out there in the world who will exploit that weakness to their advantage.  I let my guard down last week but ,by the Grace of God, a mistake kept me safe when I believe it could have been horrible.  This is my story.

I have been really busy and I took a call and made an appointment to show one of my listings and continued on with what I was doing without missing a beat.  But I should have slowed down to think about what I was doing.  I AM smarter than this and I have always been really careful, but it didn't even sink in that it was a man by himself.  It didn't even dawn on me to be worried about--it is Hudsonville/Jenison for crying out loud.  Paul Harvey has even reported our area to have the highest number of churches per capita than any other area in the nation.  I am still usually much safer but I was on warp speed mode.

The next day rolled around and I was suppose to meet him at noon.  As I went to walk out the door, I told my son if he wanted a ride to work then he better hurry up and come with me and I would drop him on the way.  We were halfway to his work when I realized I had done it again, thought he had to be at work at noon when he is actually suppose to be there at 1 pm--he missed it to.  So I told him to come with me on my appointment which wasn't that far away.  Now normally he would be driving as he needs drive time, but this time he was sitting in the passenger seat.

We got there at about 5 minutes before noon and pulled into the parking spot in front of the house which was parellel to the road but kind of at an angel. . .  .and we waited . . .and waited . . and waited.  At around 12:15 a guy went by the house slowly and was really rubber necking it--leaning across the seat and looking really hard at the house--or so I thought!  Truthfully, I just thought wow he is really interested in this house.  The house sits about 200 feet off the road so with the angel and everything, he didn't see me watching him.  He could only see my son.  I didn't really think that much about it.  We waited until 12:30 and left--I haven't had a no show in years.  Still oblivious to what had just happened.

When I got back to my desk I called the seller to apologize that she and her family had to leave for no reason.  She asked me when I had taken the call to show the property and I said, "I don't know, sometime yesterday am".  She said there was a vehicle that was stopped in the front of the house talking on the phone at right around 10.  I said, "oh, what color was the truck".  There was  a long pause and she said, "Tami I didn't tell you it was a truck".  Serious chills ran down my spine.  "Oh dear Lord ," I said, "please don't tell me it was a red truck".  She confirmed that it was.  I felt sick to my stomach.  "Did it have a red matching topper?"  Long silence . . . ."yeah it did". 

I hung up the phone and with dread, pulled up the phone number he had given me and called it and listened to the computer voice tell me how this phone was no longer in service.  Dear God in Heaven . . .he had driven by and seen a man with me and had kept going . . . .he had planned on me being alone.  I knew it and my seller knew it.  I called the police and told them what happened and they asked me if I had taken the plate number.  I hadn't because it hadn't dawned on me what was going on until long after I had left.

I let my guard down and I shouldn't have.  Let's face it, most Realtors can't afford to give up a client and that includes women.  But, I have had a plan that I have adhered to for years. . . and I slipped.  I would not have been prepared if I had been in a bad position.  My first plan is to have someone come with me.  When I can't find someone, I have a plan in place that is pretty thorough and I would like to share it with you.

#1.  Find out what you can about him before you meet him.  Where does he work, where is he staying.  Call and verify that what he tells you is true.  Believe me, when you call businesses and explain you are a women and wanted to verify who this man is, they commend you for not being  . . .well . . . .stupid.  Even better, ask who he is pre-qualified with and get their phone and information and call and verify that he is working with them.  I know many of you will say they should be pre-qualified before you even meet them.  On this I disagree,  but I don't want to debate that right now with this post.  I have called several companies when people say they just moved here for a new job--not once have I had anyone refuse to let me know that he did work there or he did have an appointment.

#2.  Before the appointment, call him and ask him for his drivers license number, plate number and the make, model and year of his car.  I have only had it one time that they refused and I had a creepy feeling anyway about him.  Most men are impressed that I am on my toes and thinking.  Tell him you will verify it when you meet.

#3.  Plan ahead and have someone who is keeping track of where you are and what homes you are showing and the addresses of all of them.

#4.  Do not ever meet your male clients in a secluded place If you don't know that exact area, pull it up on Google maps and look at the aerial picture.  It will tell you a lot about if the home is secluded or in a subdivision.  If it is in a secluded area, meet them in a busy parking lot first.

#5.  Carry pepper spray.  Keep it in a pocket but don't put it on key chain so they see it--it takes away the surprise advantage.  You can buy it anywhere on line.

Car Opener#6.  Keep your keys in your hand.  Hold one key through your fingers so if you punched, it would stab.  You should also make sure you have a panic button for your car that will make the alarm go off by pushing a button.

#7.  Have a secret text you can use with your point person to let them know if you are in trouble and a different text if you are ok.  My text that someone sends me 15 minutes after I am suppose to meet him is, "what did you do with the key".  If I text back, "I left it under the flower pot" they know I am ok.  If I don't text back within five minutes, they call the police.  If I know I am in trouble, I text back, "it is under the garbage can".  From there I have to text every 15 minutes.  The next text that my point person sends is, "the key isn't there".  If I am ok then I text back, "check both flower pots".  You get the idea.

#8.  When you arrive at the appointment.  Verify his info, then take his picture and a picture of the vehicle and text it to your point person.  They should be waiting for this.  If they don't get your  info, they immediately send the secret text.  If you don't respond or respond the wrong way, they immediately call the police.

Is this fool proof?  I am sure it isn't-- nothing really is.  But, this sure puts us in a better position!

Pass this around, print it, reblog it, copy it in any way you want.  You never know what women you might save!


Dawn Maloney had some good advice:

Check out their name on, or - she actually kept herself from showing a serial rapist a home by doing this.  Thank you Dawn!!

Brian Block said:

I'd highly suggest to you, and all women (and men) to read the book "The Gift of Fear" by Gavin de Becker. I can't recommend it enough. This book will change your perspective on the world and make you more aware of your surroundings and how you can prevent dangerous situations.

Comments (145)

Liane Thomas, Top Listing Agent
Professional Realty Services® - Corona, CA
Bringing you Home!

This was a great reminder. Thank you for the tips, and so glad you are ok.

Jun 25, 2010 03:07 AM
Ralph Gorgoglione
Maui Life Homes / Metro Life Homes - Kihei, HI
Hawaii and California Real Estate (310) 497-9407

Absolutley. Unfortunately, there is way too much stuff going on at open houses.

Jul 03, 2010 05:17 AM
Pam Faulkner
Faulkner House Interior Redesign - Herndon, VA
Room Transformations Fairfax & Loudoun Counties VA

Tami, you will never know how your experience, and writing about it, may save others from potential tragedy.  Both men and women are victims of assault and robbery so hopefully what you have related will be a wake up call for everyone.

I have re-blogged this excellent post here on Active Rain and intend to send it to everyone I know who works alone.  Reminders like this help to keep us aware and on guard.  THANK YOU for taking the time to share this.

Jul 03, 2010 05:46 AM
Stephanie Arnett
ERA Town & Campus Realty - Starkville, MS
SRS, IMSD, Broker Associate, REALTOR

Thank you...

Jul 23, 2010 07:12 AM
Carol Andersen
Navarre Beach Agency - Navarre, FL
NW Floridanulls Real Estate Pro, TRC, ICREA

I'm so glad you were with your son.  We had something similar happen here this week.  Please take a look at my blogs....

Sep 03, 2010 08:32 AM
Don Spera
CR Property Group, LLC - East York, PA
Serving York and Adams County, PA

Tami, thanks for the heads up and passing this information on so unselfishly.  My hear pours out to the family and loved ones of the Realtors that lost their life.  We need to stay as proactive as possible at all times.  Thank God, you are OK, and congratulations to your daughter for such a great accomplishment.

Sep 23, 2010 03:04 AM
Phil Leng
Retired - Kirkland, WA
Phil Leng - Retired

Hi Tami,

You are going to get another round of comments on this one.

Thanks for the post. I came here from your comment and passed it on to my team


Apr 25, 2011 10:43 PM
Dana Hollish Hill
Hollish Hill Group, JPAR Stellar Living - Bethesda, MD
REALTOR * Broker * Coach

I think having a good safety system is a great idea. I will discuss this at our next staff meeting. Thanks for posting it for us. 

Apr 26, 2011 03:39 AM
Tracey Hawkins
Safety and Security Source - Kansas City, MO

Being a safety trainer, I love hearing how seriously everyone takes their safety! Men and women alike! I was interviewed by the Des Moines Register after the agent was recently murdered and interviewed by about agent safety. I will post the links for you all to share and read.

I have to comment on a couple of new comments since I last responded. I have already addressed the misnomer of keeping pepper spray hidden in your pockets. It should be visible as a deterrent. Someone mentioned wasp spray as an alternative to pepper spray. That is a no-no. First, it is a federal crime to use wasp spray for anything but its intended purpose. Secondly, although you should use any and everything that you can to protect yourself, you need to make sure it will work. We do not know if wasp spray will stop a human, make them mad enough to escalate the attack or kill them. It is better to not count on the unknown to protect yourself. You can buy a large canister of pepper spray. It sprays as far as the wasp spray and we know how it affects the would-be criminal although nothing is 100%. If wasp spray was so good, police officers would carry it, right? They carry pepper spray!

Finally, the comment about the sheriff discouraging people from utilizing safety tools such as pepper spray. How unfair! He was quoted as saying you need to be prepared to use the tools you are likely to have when unprepared. Your elbows, your body, etc.. First of all, you should always be prepared. Period. Secondly, I am amazed that the occassional law enforcement officer who preaches against 'regular' people carrying a self defense product, has self-defense training, a gun, pepper spray, billy club AND a flashlight to defend themselves. Why can't they use only their bodies to defend themselves as they advise us? Because we all need every advantage we can get, too!

I do stress that you need to learn your weapon and practice with it.

 Links to my safety tip interviews. Please share!

Apr 26, 2011 06:20 AM
Stephanie Anson
Anson Properties - Gainesville, FL
Estates | Homes | Land | Investments

Thank God you didn't see that guy alone. Thank you for sharing your experience, sometimes being a women in the field of Real Estate we really need to take extra careful when meeting clients, if i feel bothered i usually seek for a partner to meet up with clients. I also bring some of the self defense thing like pepper spray. Good thing you have your son with you.

Mar 29, 2012 01:45 PM
Kim & Kristine Halverson
Compass - Santa Monica, CA
Sisters, Realtors

Hi Tami Vroma !

I am happy that I got an opportunity to read this article and I am happy that you're safe.I think we really need to be extra careful because we are a women and were in the field of real estate.When I go out I normally bring someone with me or I ask someone to check me up once in awhile.Thank you for this article I will share this to other people and keep up the good job in being a grand rapid short sale agent. 


Mar 31, 2012 04:55 AM
Edie Pittman

Being kidnapped and raped, but alive I set and listen to the do's and don't of people who have not, and I just shake my head about some of the advice given.  Most of what is recommended by the public, our boards and our brokers will get you killed.  The only reason that I am alive tody is due to " not doing what most people recommend".

Please don't make recommdation if you have not been in those shoes.  


May 08, 2012 04:15 AM
Jayne Clement
Keller Williams Realty - Los Feliz, CA
Los Angeles Short Sale Agents

Hi Tami,Glad I still had a chance to read this.I read all their comments and I must say that I am learning alot.We should all be very careful especially if we are all alone.I'm normally with someone when I meet someone.Glad you're ok.Thanks for this post.Stay the best Grand Rapids Short Sale Agent.

May 14, 2012 01:07 AM
Diane M. Phillips Realtor 443-286-4365
Frankly Real Estate Inc. - Manchester, MD
Specializing in Carroll Co., MD

Tami ~ Thanks for sharing your story and tips. I am also a fan of the book, The Gift of Fear. Be safe.

Oct 14, 2014 01:50 AM
Mack Galphin
Realtor Safety Moves into the Future
There have been almost 200 Realtors murdered, and many times that assaulted since 2008 and the real estate industry, as a whole, has failed to develop an effective safety protocol during this deadly time period. Every time this life and death issue comes to the forefront the Realtor community is again led to failed measures like weapons and fighting techniques for protection. I know of no incidents on record where an everyday female Realtor has stopped a criminal attack by using force. These attackers are hardened criminals who render their victims helpless with the initial strike. Julie Roberts, a Florida Realtor recently testified about the attack she endured. With the first blow the criminal knocked her across the room and completely out of her shoes. This is typical in this type of attack. These obsolete techniques are simply not the solution, and most Realtors realize this.
So how do we stop these criminals and the harm they are inflicting on Realtors? There are 2 parts to this answer:
Part 1- By utilizing new, proactive technology that stops these attacks BEFORE they occur.
Part 2- By having in place a superior Emergency Response Plan that protects Realtors 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
The link below is an informational video to new, Skype based technology that has just been released for Realtor protection. This is the first elite, crime prevention protocol ever developed for the Realtor community. Also, the Emergency Response Plan in this system is state-of-the-art and far superior to any response plan that is currently being used. 
This system is substantially safer than any system being used by Realtors today. It is much more convenient for clients and Realtors than “out of the way” safety trips to the office and the other procedures that have been implemented of late. Clients will also have far less of an issue with using this system than handing over their driver’s license to be copied. We must remember, driver’s license fraud is a major problem in today’s society.
Right now is the time for the Realtor community to take advantage of intelligence and modern technology and stop these attacks before they happen. In today’s digital society our gains come from the use of advanced technology and this situation is no different. This is just another example of new technology that has never been seen before, that’s what makes it so great; embrace the new and utilize it. This technology is the real method of defeating these criminals, and it absolutely works.
On this website is a link titled Partner with Police that shows how a small team of 3 Realtors can immediately implement this protocol in any community or city. Establish REAL safety in your community by being a leader in implementing this protocol and providing Realtors and their clients with the level of protection and convenience that they deserve. If you have any questions about this protocol or Realtor safety in general, feel free to call.
Mack Galphin
Cyber Violence Specialist
Nov 12, 2014 12:26 PM
Inna Ivchenko
Barcode Properties - Encino, CA
Realtor® • GRI • HAFA • PSC Calabasas CA

Ladies especially, learn to hit groin and/or Adam's apple....scream as you do so. If State allows, OC/pepper spray (learn how 2 use it effectively). NEVER turn your back on a client. If you can not sign for a special self defense classes, watch some utube videos, learn self defense tactics and vital points of our body.

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