VACANT HOMES AND CRIME
As in many places in the United States, there are a high number of vacant homes in the Phoenix area. Most are the result of a foreclosure and many have been on the market for 100 days or more. These homes are perfect targets for criminals.
As a REALTOR®, how many times have you walked into one of these homes with a client and found it vandalized or the appliances missing. This has happened to me on several occasions.
When showing an REO in an upscale neighborhood, my client and I walk in and found the appliances missing. In the garage we found the stove next to the overhead door. The MLS sheet stated that the appliances came with the property. I thought that was a little strange, so I called the listing agent. He told me the appliances should all be there. At this point, my client and I exited the home and I called the police. When they arrived, they took our statements and conducted their investigation. The officer told me this type of burglary was very common in that area. The criminals will gain entry, open the garage door and back a truck inside. They would load their truck with as many items as possible, while being hidden from the public, then drive off. In this case, they weren't able to fit the stove.
The next time it occurred, I found the home being lived in. There were food wrapper and garbage on the floor along with two sleeping bags. There was graffiti on the walls and some drug paraphernalia on the counter top. Needless to say, we didn't stay there long. We beat a hasty retreat and called the listing agent. I strongly suggested she call the police. We were not going to wait around. The last thing any REALTOR® should do is put his client in danger.
Now, you have to ask yourself, "What would happen if you opened that door and were eyeball to eyeball with a person that should not be there?"
When you're showing homes to clients or if you're the home buyer looking at homes with your agent, always maintain "situational awareness". Be aware of your surroundings. When you open that door you never know what's on the other side. If you get that gut feeling that something is not right, act on it. The last thing you want to do is walk into a home when a crime is being committed. But if it does happen, you should have a plan. Something you've gone over a hundred times in your mind. It could be something as simple as running out the door. If you don't have a plan, chances are you're going to freeze up while your brain is trying to find a solution to the stressful situation you were just thrown into. It's that "deer in the headlights" look. There's a good chance you're about to become the victim of a crime.
It's no different than when you‘re playing baseball. A good player has already assessed the situation before the ball is hit. He's already thoughtout and has a plan, "if the balls hit over my head, I'm throwing to third base; if it's hit in front of me, I'm going to second". He's gone over all the variables, so when the ball is hit, he already knows what to do. I'm sure you've seen the little leaguer that didn't do this and was unprepared. The ball's hit to him and he just stands there, looking around in a state of panic. The fans are yelling, the coach is yelling and he just stands there, frozen. That's because he doesn't have a plan.
Moral Of The Story:
Don't be that little leaguer...HAVE A PLAN!