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Toronto scheme reminds agents to practice safety

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Real Estate Professional | 07 Nov 2014, 10:11 AM Agree 0
Industry leaders are cautioning agents working Toronto’s west end, warning them about a seemingly ideal client intent on luring them to vacant properties.
  • | 07 Nov 2014, 03:47 PM Agree 0
    I try to take my husband with me on rural property showings (when I am meeting buyers or sellers for the first time). As he is a CF Member and deployed often, he got me some "bear spray" and a small pocket knife. I also have a 95lbs dog who comes when he can't.
  • | 07 Nov 2014, 04:43 PM Agree 0
    Hmmm. Interesting to read. Here in the Comox Valley on Vancouver Island, BC, earlier this year we had a person professing to be a doctor from Toronto - same scenario. it came to light, again, because a few female agents were talking about "their" client only to find out that the same story had been told to more than one. Another reason I am, probably not popularly, against agent photographs on signs. I realise there are other ways of finding agents' photographs (online, realty paper) but the sign seems too easy. and, yes, I am a female agent.
  • Farida Jones | 07 Nov 2014, 07:31 PM Agree 1
    If we were to put our normal working day as female realtors into the context of online dating...Would you meet some unknown date at a vacant location or his home? It is time that we set the bar a little higher. Obtaining ID or pre-screening are not enough. Men should not assume we are always available willing and show a property. CREA needs to launch a public campaign of awareness so the public does not have this expectation of us...and male realtors can also be vulnerable.
  • | 08 Nov 2014, 12:43 PM Agree 1
    If we leave the safety concerns aside for a moment, even from a business perspective I think it's good practice to meet a potential buyer in the office first: to qualify them, get to know their needs, sign a buyer representation agreement if applicable etc... I find that in many instances the buyer may already have an agent, are just trying to gage the value of their own home, or just casually shopping. When we add the safety issue, it just makes sense for us as realtors to not just rush to show a home to every random, unqualified caller. I also think it's not a bad idea to take a colleague from the office when meeting a new client for the first time.
  • Narc | 10 Nov 2014, 11:35 AM Agree 0
    I go with my mom who's a realtor to meetings with new clients who she feels are not all there. Other than 1 time, everyone ended up being fine just a couple weirdos but harmless.
  • Lawren | 05 Dec 2014, 12:00 PM Agree 1
    The Arkansas Realtors now demand that buyers meet at their office first. If I'm looking for a home, there is no reason why I cannot accommodate that request. Be smart, be safe. It's a sad day when a working woman has to arm herself in order to do the job that feeds her family.

  • itdoesntmatter | 08 Dec 2014, 05:02 PM Agree 0
    No self-respecting Realtor® would agree to meet a buyer looking for a $800,000 property without sitting down in the office first. Source: I am a top producing agent. Qualify, qualify, qualify.
  • Norm L | 29 Dec 2014, 11:01 AM Agree 0
    I am a male Realtor and my first meeting is ( to the best of my ability) at my office. When you do your assessment ( drivers license, place of employment, yearly income etc.) of the new clients wants and their ability to purchase, it indeed limits the time wasted showing properties that they cannot afford to purchase.
    I believe most female Realtors shoud be accompanied by an assistant when showing empty properties.
  • | 21 Jan 2015, 01:15 PM Agree 0
    My wife is a real-estate agent and I've always been very worried how new clients are encourage to call agents from signs or advertising. Then the agent is expected to foolishly meet the potential client god knows were! Generally most agents are pretty intelligent people unfortunately some are hungrier than others to make a living. Why doesn't TREB take the lead and force all new clients to meet the agent in their office before any properties are shown. This isn’t a 100% protection but it’s a start! For those that think this doesn’t concern them …Remember we all have wives, mothers and daughters.. Does it affect you now!
    If agents were unionized or work for the government you can be dam sure there would be some protection in place. Wake up TREB before it’s too late!

    Concerned husband!
  • J | 27 Jan 2015, 12:35 PM Agree 0
    I make it a personal policy to not show properties to people I have not met in my office. If they are serious buyers then have them come meet you on your turf and then assess their needs and book appropriate appointments. If we all did this we wouldn't be chasing our tails, and potential clients would learn to respect and value us more. We also owe it to the sellers. They trust that ALL the Realtors out there are showing their property to Clients or at the very least people they are familiar with. It's simply NOT ok to show up at any property to meet a stranger and bring them through another persons home vacant or not, our personal safety aside. Further more we should know that RECO has subjective statutes they can use to charge us when we do something silly, stupid, or not in the publics best interest. I think showing up as a stranger to meet a stranger and letting them in a strangers home would fall into that category. Lets be safe and smart.
  • Dawn Wilkins | 02 Feb 2015, 09:52 AM Agree 0
    I agree with being protected. I once had a man contact me that was building our new hospital and wanted to me him at a property. I felt a little uneasy, so I talked to my broker. She said to have him meet me at the office first and he never showed up. It was great advice from my broker, as I was a new agent at our office.
  • | 05 Mar 2015, 01:41 PM Agree 0
    Without posting the complete story, I was a young blonde Broker (now 10 years smarter), the Buyer said he was a doctor from Toronto, looking for a house for his parents that want to retire in beautiful Thunder Bay. The property needed to be vacant, as his parents wanted quick possession. He showed up in a cab, apparently straight from the airport. Now he would be in my vehicle for the remaining 3 showings. He became very upset when I would not show him the basement of the houses. So for the next day, he wanted me to arrange vacant country homes. Long story short, the police said it was my instincts and training that probably saved my life that day. He turned out to be a federal parolee, staying at one of the Salvation Army mens shelters. Please be safe!!!!!
  • Thunder Bay | 11 Mar 2015, 03:14 PM Agree 0
    As a female agent it's important to keep aware and take all the precautions you can but lets not forget about open houses as another potential problem area of safety since there is no phone call required to set up the showing. Many times we are at vacant homes doing an open house. It's not always practical to have another person with you but just as an extra precaution I keep my car keys in my front pant pocket at all times whether I'm showing a home or doing an open house. If ever you feel uncomfortable you can easily reach into your pocket and press the panic button on your car key remote and trigger the incessant beeping of the car horn. Thankfully I've never had to use this but just in case you get into a tight situation, it's something that could give you a little bit of a edge and deter the criminal from sticking around or trying to wrestle the keys out of your pocket to stop the attention grabbing horn from beeping. I do admit, the bear spray is a nice touch though.
  • Rinske Wagenaar | 19 Mar 2015, 12:28 PM Agree 0
    Twenty five years ago I received a request from (what sounded like) a couple of somewhat boisterous young men to see one of my listings. As I did not trust the situation entirely, I asked a male colleague to come with me. He would not - said that if females want to sell Real Estate they should take care of themselves. So a not afraid female agent offered to accompany me and off we went. While waiting in the house, a car drove up to the front and 3 young men jumped out. The car sped off - my friend said: " oh oh........gang rape" Then the car pulled into the side yard and a woman came in through the back door. She was the mother of the three boys. Hilarious and they did not buy the house.
  • Barbara Izzard Thynne | 05 May 2015, 12:10 PM Agree 0
    Safety first! I work with a partner for just this reason. When one of us is not available then our husbands or even our favourite mortgage broker attends showings with us. Even with this care we've had a few weird or unpleasant experiences.

  • Susan | 11 May 2015, 11:05 PM Agree 0
    It's great to get an alert when these kinds of cases turn up but why is the name of the person disclosed and a good description not disclosed? That would be helpful as well. I know the person can use different names, but at least it still could be helpful. The name of the real estate office should be disclosed as well.
  • Arnold Handelman | 15 May 2015, 11:36 AM Agree 0
    The only way for a female agent to have safety on a first time meeting a prospect at a vacant property, is to be accompanied by another adult. This should be made a requirement, so that no one is offended, and also, so that offenders would be discouraged.

    I think the Board should also implement a requirement for unaccompanied male prospects to forward a copy or photo of their driver's licence and a selfie photo to the real estate office prior to the agent goint to the vacant property. That way, the prospect knows that even if he were to disable both the agent and the person accompanying her, his photo and ID would be on file.

    If an unaccompanied female agent intends to rely on self defence training, or bear spray, or a pocket knife or other defences--she is naïve. A stronger violent male could disarm her and use the weapon against her.

    It's sad that a hard working realtor should have to fear for her safety because she is female. However, rather than stewing over the unfairness, taking cold hard realistic steps for protection, such as having an adult accompany her on those showings or inspections, and having photo ID sent to the office ahead of time, make simple sense.

    I don't have to add that the agent should have a copy of the photo ID and selfie with her, and if the male prospect turns out to be different, she should leave immediately.
  • Roman | 15 May 2015, 01:06 PM Agree 0
    As we hear disturbing news daily, I for one do not understand on how a private home seller allows a stranger in their home. We as professional realtors try to know who we are working with before we bring them into a home. In most cases we form a working relationship with our sellers and buyers. Yes we get these calls to view properties but we try to get information from this prospect before we start working on their behalf.
    Please protect your self, ask for a contact number, email and contact this stranger back to set appointment. Also let someone know where you will be. Play safe and work safe.

    Private sellers should higher a professional to eliminate a possible situation and not worry about paying a commission. This is a heads up for everyone.
  • Veteran | 01 Jun 2015, 07:08 PM Agree 0
    How about an industry (mandated, if necessary) practice of NOT showing homes to complete strangers (whether you are male or female)? It would raise our value in the minds of the public that our time is worth something and we are not just a bunch of desperate pop tarts. Nothing wrong with "sign calls" and giving information. We would need the support of all our RE organizations to the communicate the message and BUYER BENEFITS (WIIFM). Safety first and proper qualification second serves all. Sellers would be on board for sure...buyers need a mindset change through a strong value proposition.
  • | 09 Jun 2015, 03:10 PM Agree 0
    Qualify and verify a buyer customer prior to the meeting at the "property". Realtors need to do that to set the bar a lot higher than it is. Not only are you wasting YOUR precious time, but that of your Seller client as well. Running out the door to show a property to a complete stranger based on the notion "I am a Doctor relocating from BC ..." is not good enough. Would I be correct to state, that as a Realtor, and as the public perceives us, we are all sooooo gullible that we will believe anything? Come on people, value yourselves!
  • | 15 Jun 2015, 12:03 AM Agree 0
    COme on you female agents you know better.You know you need to pre qualify whether online or phone . If you ask enough questions you will know what you are dealing with. I wont even give out information on the internet if the person does not include their phone number,,,,makes no sense at all to do this...we are not here to give out free info to someone you know nothing about..dont waste your time

    \get your glamour shots off of everything you do....this is not a Glamour any means

    Going to a vacant home to meet someone you dont know is just stupid...get to know what and who you are dealing with and you need to ask many questions to get this done....just do your job and dont make real estate look stupid and desperate
  • Toronto realtor | 26 Jun 2015, 09:13 AM Agree 0
    Anyone who talks about per qualifying etc. probably is not working in downtown Toronto. I'm a female realtor and while you try to take precautions, all this talk of prequalify ing and meeting at offices is no longer realistic. In a market where bully offers have become the norm by the time you properly prequalified someone you lost them the house. If you have a busy listing with tens of people wanting in, and at best 1 week where the property is on the market, it's not realistic or practical to prequalify all of them. The sad reality is that you need to not think about it, or many aspects of our profession are very scary. Not just the vacant properties (because these days most sellers vacate the home anyways).
  • Nick Slezinski ReMax First, Calgary | 08 Nov 2015, 09:58 PM Agree 0
    Regarding fictitious (fraudulent) "clients" misrepresenting themselves, we have had that in Calgary some years back to my recollection. A very successful and well know female agent was assaulted in a vacant home in a high end residential area . Your personal safety must be of primary concern at all times, your personal health is much more important than any "perceived" commission . If in the rare even you have listen to your "spidey-senses" - check out the name and cell number of the caller . If this is not possible, bring a fellow agent with you ! I would personally be willing to assist any agent in such a situation even from a competing agency . I've been licensed since 1975 . Nick Slezinski ReMax First, Calgary, AB.,
  • Pat Fusco | 15 Jan 2016, 04:35 PM Agree 0
    I totally agree with Farida Jones comments. I don't know why! Realtors seem to think like teens, nothing can happen to us! yet, we all know, how stupid and wrong that is. There have been too many bad and brutal incidents with Realtors in the past. We should definitely do more to prevent such attacks on Realtors in the future. Public awareness is always great, but we need to do more for Realtor safety awareness and more frequently, perhaps every day via the home page of our MLS IE. tip of the day! or Did You Know! type of campaign.
    It has to be every day, because we Realtors get so cut up in our day to day business and servicing our prospects and clients that too often we forget about us.
  • Josie Carrillo Calderon | 18 Jan 2016, 01:52 PM Agree 0
    I don't show homes to strangers. If they are serious about working with me they sign an agreement at my brokerage office and provide their DL for reference or I don't show. I have realtor insurance and I would need their DL if for some reason I needed to file a claim. I'm considering taking my husky dog EVEN then to my open house and showings.
  • TOAgent | 09 Apr 2016, 11:44 PM Agree 0
    Who can I contact to report someone? I am a female realtor in Toronto and the same situation happened to me. The story of this guy is similar to this article as well. He called my office asking for me and when I returned his call he said he was looking to sell his home in Brampton and buy a bigger home. He wanted to meet at his home to discuss price and he gave me his address and we set up a date and time. I brought my husband with me and When I arrived at the home I rang doorbell several times and no one answered. I called his phone several times and no reply as well but he text me right away and said I was at wrong house and gave me another address that was about 10mins away. When I arrived at that address I parked across the street and observed the house for about 10mins. An old Caucasian walked out and was going into his car. I knew it wasn't that guys house because that guy was not Cauasian based on his name and voice. I texted him to say I was outside and he replied saying how he doesn't have time to meet me and has to get back to work because that was his break. Then when I said okay we can reschedule he replied by saying how I'm not serious and I'm rude and said he doesn't want to work with me. I didn't think anything of it at the time but thinking back I think he was watching me from the 1st home and saw that I was with a man so he sent us away. I have his cell phone number and the name he gave. He also gave the same story about him and his wife being in the medical field and they were starting a job on a hospital soon.
  • | 13 Apr 2016, 08:04 AM Agree 0
    I am a Male Realtor and have a suggestion but I'm not sure how this will work but TREB should step up and give some sort of Panic Button that Realtors can wear around there wrists or perhaps as a necklace. When Pressed it has an emergency response team set in action notifying police and family and/or the office. This would not be difficult and perhaps would have saved the life of the person mentioned in the article. Realtors pay a lot of money to their brokerages and TREB and I don't think this would be a very large expense. If this saves one life it was worth it. Another pre-caution from all realtors there should be a mandatory introduction at the Brokerages office for all new clients and a step by step process mandated and training session to implement it. Jumping when someone calls to show a home not only puts realtors at risk it puts the home owners home at risk for thieves scoping out places to rob. A thief can ask for a viewing of an expensive home and scope out if there's anything worth stealing during a showing from a realtor. If we meet the potential buyers at the brokerage office during office hours when there are camera's and other people around there will be some sort of lead the police can follow. Having potential buyers mandated to give government photo ID before ever seeing any house will not only protect Realtors and Home Owners it will thwart any predators intentions of Ill repute. This should be mandated and advertised on TV so everyone accepts this idea. Then the realtors can also introduce a buyers agency agreement and if the buyers wont sign they can determine whether or not to show the home or not. Just another advantage of of hiring a realtor to sell your homes. Protection against criminals. A TV campaign on this will help realtors as it protects home sellers and gives home sellers a reason to hire a realtor rather than trying to sell it on their own.
  • Bruce Dougall | 27 Apr 2016, 12:50 PM Agree 0
    The option for concealed carry with proper licensing and training would be a good thing for the safety of women. However in Canada, too many will be murdered before that ever becomes possible.
  • | 18 May 2016, 10:21 AM Agree 0
    That's awesome Nick!
  • Russell | 30 Sep 2016, 02:43 PM Agree 0
    Great comments and advice from the contributors. I am a male realtor working in a small market in a rural area with about 40 realtors , half of which are women. The women are well aware of the type of stories posted and the logic and necessity to meet at the office and complete a buyer interview, complete with I.D. Sadly I don't know one that would turn down an opportunity to drive half our out into the country and show a vacant property to a complete stranger. Many outlying areas do not even have reliable cell service. I lecture them all the time to stop this dangerous practise , but they are like teenagers thinking that nothing will ever happen to them. I have never heard of a local female realtor taking a wing-man (or woman) with them for a showing in a remote area.
    I do wish there was some way to get though to them as they are friends as well as co-workers.
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