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Realtor Safety: Don't Trust Your Instincts

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By : M Shane    99 or more times read
Nearly every page of safety tips on the Internet tells Realtors to “trust their instincts”. To a great degree, this advice is sound. The part of us that is not involved in the rituals of everyday life takes stock of people’s behavior and alerts us if there seems to be something “wrong”. However, this only works as far as the behavior of the potential predator that we may be allowing into our open house or taking to tour an empty property. Many human predators are skilled at mimicking the behavior and speech patterns of people who are genuinely focused on what you are selling.

Realtors are in a high risk profession for being put in compromising situations with potential predators. Many Realtors operate solo, meaning they are holding open houses and conducting home tours for complete strangers. Right now, the foreclosure crisis is making predators aware of the large number of empty homes and the professionals who tour them – alone. Being alone in a house with a predator in a neighborhood of foreclosures can be just as dangerous as going with them in a car to a remote field.

Predators are people, which is to say that the same thing that drives the rest of us drives them as well. It’s hard to equate someone who seeks to do violence to other people with someone who wants a good rate on their mortgage and worries about whether to replace the siding with wood or vinyl. A rapist can be someone who wants to buy a home. Just because he is stalking with the intent to rape does not mean that he cannot have all the right body language and questions right up to the assault.

Instincts are excellent early warning signals, but they have no intellect to direct them. If someone is behaving like a buyer whose only thought is whether the third bedroom will be big enough to fit a home office in, you have no defense except for your intellect. The venue may be open, the person may be showing all the signs of being sincere, but without the safety of their information and perhaps even someone to accompany you to a home showing, you are still not as “safe” as you think you are.

Never go anywhere alone with someone who has not been completely checked out by your office. Nice looking people with great cars can rob and beat people too. Don’t put a great store in how a person is dressed or what they drive (or don’t). A person’s apparent social class does not exempt them from the possibility of being a victimizer any more than it makes them into one. Insist on getting a copy of their identification, vehicle license plates and other identifying features. Being qualified for a mortgage is another good sign that this person’s intentions are on the up-and-up.

Don’t entirely trust your instincts without consulting your intellect as well. If common sense says it’s risky to be alone with a complete stranger without anyone knowing who s/he is and where to find him/her, then put your desire for a home sale on the back burner. A genuine buyer will understand that your safety comes first and be willing to work with your policies concerning your own safety.

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