Like you, I’m always looking for those safety alert emails our local board sends to all of us. They share stories of agents dealing with potential issues that should concern us all. These stories are often sent to us in real time - sometimes only minutes after an event occurs. These agents are our friends. The locations are our own neighborhoods. Maybe I’m just an “old guy” thinking it wasn’t that way years ago but there seems to be an uptick of these alerts recently.
In this business,
You cannot be over-cautious.
As a reminder, lets think back about a few tragic stories of fellow agents:
Soren Arn-Oelschlegel, 41
October 8, 2021 - Arn-Oelschlegel was fatally shot in Virginia by client Albert Baglione, age 84. Baglione purchased a property sight-unseen through the agent and was disappointed with his purchase after seeing it for the first time after the transaction closed. He demanded that his money be returned to him. He shot Arn-Oelschlegel and then turned the gun on himself in this murder-suicide.
In 2016, Abbasi was shot to death inside an abandoned property in Woodstock, GA. His murder remains unsolved.
Carter was kidnapped in 2014 from a rural, vacant home near Little Rock, AK. Her body was found days later buried in a shallow grave. A couple posing as prospective buyers were convicted of her murder.
In 2011, Okland was shot and killed while showing a new townhouse in West Des Moines, IA. Her murder remains unsolved.
Troy Vanderstelt, 33
Closer to home, in 2008 Michigan agent Troy Vanderstelt met with client Robert Johnson, aged 74 in the brokerage’s conference room. After a purchase of a home in 2005, Johnson’s property lost value during the housing crisis of 2008. Believing Vanderstelt had taken advantage of him, Johnson shot and killed his agent. Johnson was convicted of murder. No evidence exists that Vanderstelt was anything but honest throughout the real estate transaction.
So, what can we do about it?
Our local board has done an amazing job providing ways to increase agent safety. Services like Forewarn and Showingtime’s safety notifications are great products - but are you using them? Many agents I speak with say they don’t.
Here are a few categories to consider when addressing agent safety:
REAL ESTATE BOARD - Learn about the products provided to you by our board. They have taken the time to research and provide them for you. Use them.
BROKER - Talk to your broker. Bring up the topic of safety in you meetings. Many brokers have developed policies and systems to promote safety. Some brokerages, including ours have paid for agent training in self-defense.
FELLOW AGENTS - You’re not the only person concerned with safety. There are many agents in (and outside) your office who would gladly participate in a buddy system when touring properties with unknown people.
YOURSELF - After you’ve done all the above it needs to be said, you alone are responsible for your own safety. Arm yourself with knowledge and preparation. Listen to those internal alarms that go off while dealing with people. Many agents lack the confidence to act on those feelings. Trust you gut.
Your life and safety are worth it.
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