Coming in Hot: The Dangerous Life of a Real Estate Agent
Real estate agents wear a lot of hats. No one could possibly tell you everything you might be called on to do. Some things you just have to figure out for yourself. Here is how I found out that some of my colleagues occasionally don the hat of police officer/crime scene investigator:
I was working with a client who had a very modest pre-approval for $100,000. She wasn't too picky about the condition of the homes, but she was particular about potential safety issues in the neighborhoods where we were looking. We were relegated to a very narrow focus!
We got our listings together one day and set out to view properties. Everything was going according to plan until.....
We pulled up to a vacant property in an industrial area and walked up to the door. The tiny house wasn't in great shape, and a front window was broken and taped. I got the key and we walked inside. We checked out the living room, the kitchen, the back yard, and finally started down the hall to the bedrooms.
What I saw in the first bedroom made my heart stop. A sleeping bag and a few minor possessions were laid out on the carpet. My first thought was, "This house isn't vacant!" I started to panic because one of my biggest fears is getting penalized and fined for accessing a house I shouldn't be going into. Then it dawned on me that whoever had been sleeping there was doing so without permission. My client and I quickly vacated!
This incident didn't weigh too heavily on my mind until I was out for coffee with some colleagues and told my story. Two other people had heard of similar stories. One person's real estate friend had gone so far as to get a concealed weapons permit and carried a gun on her property viewings! Armed and dangerous! I got to thinking, what if the unauthorized "guest" had been there!
I wouldn't go so far as to pack heat to my viewings, but I do take pepper spray at the insistence of a friend. I doubt I'd have the time and opportunity to dig it out of my cavernous purse in an emergency, but it makes her feel better. And I wonder how comfortable my clients would feel seeing my canister dangling from my keys, ready for action.
This is one of those things you have to learn the hard way. Some offices have very strict safety procedures in place that require notification of where you are going and with whom. We all know, especially females, that you don't meet a stranger at an empty property, but there are so many precautions we take for granted. Make sure you cover yourself and your clients! It's not always safe out there. I make sure I wear comfortable shoes!
This is by no means an isolated incident. Just a few days ago the local news featured a story about two people targeting vacant homes and breaking in to steal appliances:
It's a tough world out there. Be prepared!