Earlier this year I received an inquiry from potential buyers who had just begun the process. They had researched online for a Silver Spring, MD area REALTOR® who is experienced working with First Time Maryland Home Buyers, and were ready to start house hunting. Fantastic! I love working with first time buyers - these transactions are extra special to me. These buyers ended up not hiring me, or rather, I declined working with them. You see, they refused to meet with me in a public place for our first meet'n'greet. I suggested a coffee shop, a restaurant, even IKEA (for convenience sake, plus, it's a great resource for soon-to-be-first-time-home-owners). They wanted to just hurry up and go see the first house on their list, which happened to be a vacant property. Thanks, I'll pass.
Just a few days ago I received a text from a local number that I did not recognize (fellow Maryland REALTOR® peeps, please be aware!):
Sounds intriguing, doesn't it, and legit?! It wasn't. Normally, I would have stopped what I was doing (unless with a client of course) and responded right away, ready to provide info, resources, make a plan. Not in this case though, since this text had a few gigantic red flags waving all over the place... I've known the person who supposedly sent this text for more than half my life. We frequently interact on Facebook. I had just seen her posts that morning. She is not local to Maryland. She does not have a number that starts with 443. And she also knows that I am still very much selling Real Estate in Silver Spring, MD and beyond. 15 years now and counting. No need to ask. I quickly contacted her and shared a screen-shot with her... ooof. This is creepy AF. was her response. Yes! Yes it is!
During this year's Spring-selling season I received a bunch of frantic texts from one of my sellers. I immediately knew that something was not right. We had just put her home on the market. My showing instructions in the MLS were very clear: shown by appointment only, please schedule online via ShowingTime which alerts my client(s) and myself with a text message. It's the best and safest way to set up showings in my opinion. I also only use electronic lock boxes by the way, which require an access key, or code which I have to generate, provided my client gave written permission to do so first. For that morning, we had not received a showing request text, nor had I received a call from another REALTOR®. My client responded to a knock on the door where a male person claimed to be a Real Estate agent and demanded access. He couldn't produce a business card nor did he have a key card for the lockbox. My client refused him entry, slammed the door shut, and contacted me instead.
The above are just 3 examples of stranger danger that I wanted to share in light of REALTOR® safety month. People smarts are so important for REALTORS®, and for sellers and buyers, too! I talk to all my clients about safety issues and procedures, and scams they should be aware of. When in doubt, please choose safe over sorry!
If it's a real buyer who wants to see your property, the proper arrangements will be made. If the title company needs to make changes to wiring instructions or amounts, they won't just contact you, privately, from a different email address, and demand you wire money somewhere else. If a duly licensed and professional REALTOR® comes knocking on your door, he/she will have no problem identifying him/herself to you.
When in doubt, please choose safe over sorry! Contact your REALTOR®. Or call the title company. Or reach out to your loan officer. We've got you.
Please know that we'll do the same. We'll choose a public place or our office for a first meeting. We'll ask for ID or loan approval letters. We won't hold an open house in a remote location by ourselves. Please know that we don't do that to annoy you, or because we don't like you, but because we choose safe over sorry, or getting hurt, or worse.
September is REALTOR® Safety Month - which ought to include buyers and sellers, too.
Let's all be people smart in Real Estate! Are you in?