Common sense, the first defense

Published 10:33 am Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Most folks don’t really think of real estate agents as having dangerous jobs. There’s no potentially deadly heavy machinery to go haywire, on-the-job hazards are usually on the order of trip-and-fall situations and even the sleepiest employee would find it hard to wreck an entire house.

But in southern and central Virginia lately, there’s a growing concern about a very real danger — that of ersatz customers waiting to get agents alone in an out-of-the-way place and rob or otherwise take advantage of them.

There is no panic in the real estate community about this issue yet, but there is a growing awareness that agents — especially female agents working on their own — need to take steps to make sure they are safe when they meet potential clients to show them houses.

Concerns have been raised because of a warning from the Virginia Association of Realtors, which has warned its members about a man who has called several female agents in southern and central Virginia — though none in Western Tidewater — asking to be shown homes. He tells the agents he cannot meet during the day, in a public location or at their office.

So far, nobody has been hurt by this mystery man, but his suspicious actions should be enough to remind all area real estate agents that their jobs are not, after all, completely free of danger.

Before meeting a potential new client at a remote location, it’s always best to meet them in the office first, have someone there record their license plate number and make sure someone knows where you’re headed, experienced agents say. Make sure you’ve got a good phone number for the client, and consider bringing along a partner when meeting someone for the first time.

In other words, common sense is a good first layer of defense. That and a recognition that there’s no job without its special dangers.