The National Association of REALTOR®S® designates September as REALTOR® Safety Month, but safety is an ongoing issue for REALTOR®S®. That’s something many in the public may not realize but there are indeed risks in this business. So, I want to give you some perspective so that you’ll understand why REALTOR®S® conduct business the way they do.
Think about it. A REALTOR® is often meeting a potential client alone. A majority of REALTOR®S® are women who will more likely be targets. Having said that, any REALTOR® can be a target because motives vary. Let me share a story with you I once experienced as a male REALTOR®.
Before I moved here, I worked in Jackson County and on one occasion I was asked by a bank, to list a foreclosed property in Putnam County, which is close to Charleston. So, I went to the property after researching it as well as I could. It was rural, near the community of Buffalo. As I arrived, I had to drive up a dirt driveway, cross railroad tracks, then turn and drive along a road which was parallel to the tracks. I ended up at the property in question several hundred yards down these tracks, BUT what I didn’t realize at this point, is the property was sort of landlocked. What I mean by that, is it didn’t have its own road nor did it have a easement. I had inadvertently crossed another person’s property.
Within a couple of minutes, I noticed an ATV coming from a house I passed. Well, once this “gentlemen” arrived, I noticed he had a firearm and was angry. His first words were “I shoot people who cross my property!” My objective at this point was to deescalate. However, in the next half hour, he continued to say he shoots people who come on his property. After getting him to talk about himself, I learned HE was the person whom the bank foreclosed upon. He just happened to own the adjacent property as well. He had a beef with the bank and was now trying to intimidate any potential buyer or REALTOR® who came around.
A story which you can look up is that of Beverly Carter. Beverly was a REALTOR® in Little Rock, Arkansas who was kidnapped and murdered by a man who presented himself as a potential client. He later admitted he targeted her “because she was a woman who worked alone – a rich broker”. The truth was she was actually having a bad financial year. Her story was later featured in an episode of NBC’s Dateline.
There was yet another story of a home inspector who literally got caught in the middle of a family dispute over the pending sale of a home and was killed when one family member opened fire toward another.
I won’t divulge some of the resources available or the exact precautions we take, but please know that they exist. Most people are good people, but there are bad actors as well, and REALTOR®S® have to be cautious in certain situations.
Brian McCommon, 2024 MBOR President