It’s September, and you know what that means! It’s REALTOR® Safety Month, and we are kicking off the month with a great article about safety tips right from the police – after all who is better at giving safety advice?
Below is the post from the FredericksburgNewsPost.com with tips for everyday safety. We spoke with Officer Smith from the Montgomery County Police Department and he agrees “a common sense approach is best.”
Original article link: http://www.fredericknewspost.com/sections/Business/display.htm?StoryID=109392
Police officers give safety tips to REALTORS®
A common-sense approach to safety is always best.
Capt. Kevin Grubb and Lt. Clark Pennington told about 60 in the audience that REALTORS® need to know who they are dealing with, keep a cell phone and car keys handy at all times, dress professionally and have a “buddy system,” so that a colleague at the office knows where the agent is going and keeps in touch.
The officers also spoke of an increase in Internet scams involving real estate.
“Meet the client in your office, verify identity and check them out,” Grubb said.
The Frederick Police Department website lists the location of sex offenders and a “crime map” shows where incidents occurred around the city.
“The city is a very safe place,” Grubb said. “There is not anywhere in Frederick city that I would tell people to stay away from.”
Pennington said robberies have increased in the city. He advised REALTORS® to be aware of their surroundings, look for groups of people standing around or someone just sitting in a car.
“Take your head out of the BlackBerry, be aware of overgrown bushes and lighting,” he said. “See if there is a 24-hour convenience store or something nearby where you could run to if there was a problem.”
Members of the audience said they had run into “squatters” in vacant houses, especially those that have been empty for some time. One REALTOR® said a man came to an open house in 95-degree weather wearing gloves — that was a sign something wasn’t right.
“Don’t be afraid to back out of an appointment,” Pennington said. “If you feel uncomfortable discontinue the appointment.”
Before going, the officers advised having a buddy code to let them know something is wrong and have the buddy call at the appointment to check if all is well.
“Walk around the house before you go in,” Grubb said.
Grubb said a REALTOR® can dress professionally, but not wear a tie or drawstring that can be pulled or held; long hair should be tied up, and don’t wear expensive jewelry, he said.
Although the police department does not advocate such items, Pennington said people can legally carry pepper spray and Tasers. But he said keys, pens and fingernails are weapons, too.
“If you use pepper spray to protect yourself, that is OK. But you don’t have a fight with your spouse, then later on take pepper spray to the bar where he is having a drink and walk up and spray him.”
Two kinds of Internet scams are showing up, the officers said. The first is when a REALTOR® is contacted about a property for sale or rent. The scammer asks if they can send a check for a deposit on a property they have not even seen. Then the scammer says they had an emergency and tell the REALTOR® to send the money back. What happens is the scammer has stolen or forged the check that was sent and the REALTOR® is sending a check that will be cashed and the scammer will disappear.
The other is when a REALTOR®, or even someone selling their own home, will advertise it on Craigslist. The scammer will duplicate the ad, with another e-mail address, and say the property is for rent, not for sale. The scammer will ask for money as a deposit in many cases. Then people show up at the house, thinking it is for rent, only to find it is for sale.