More real-estate agents face dangers

The recession has added to the risks agents face when they go alone to a home and meet strangers. Training and applications are designed to keep real-estate pros safe on the job.

By Teresa at MSN Real Estate May 7, 2012 1:39PM

© SuperStockYou don't think of real estate as a dangerous job, but the increase in crimes against people in the real-estate field has prompted the National Association of Realtors and other trade groups to boost safety training.


In 2010, the last year for which statistics are available, 63 people employed in real-estate-related fields, including property management and maintenance, died on the job. That was the highest number since the Bureau of Labor Statistics began keeping data in 2003.


Of the 60 deaths in 2010, 23 were slayings. An additional 14 people died from falls, nine from transportation accidents and eight from environmental toxins.


Ten deaths were reported among those who worked in sales, up from four in 2009.


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"Anybody who works with the general public faces a higher degree of victimization than somebody who's in the office all day," Andrew Wooten, a safety instructor, told Inman News, which published a three-part series on agent safety last year.

Wooten was called in to conduct safety seminars in Iowa after a real-estate agent was assaulted on the job in February 2011 and 27-year-old Ashley Oakland was murdered in a model home in Des Moines in April 2011. ABC News wrote about five other murders of agents in recent years.

The recession has added to the danger for agents. "A real-estate agent makes a living meeting a complete stranger in an empty home," Tracey Hawkins, who owns a security company, told ABC News. "Agents may encounter squatters, angry former homeowners or even encounter abandoned pets that may be aggressive. These properties are often meth labs or pot houses, and encroaching upon them is dangerous."

The NAR has a number of safety tips and resources. The number of mobile applications designed to help agents stay safe also has grown.

Tags: selling
May 12, 2012 10:35PM
Really, MSN?  Video... 1 sentence... link to another article... 2 sentences... link to another article.... 4 sentences... link to another article... 2 sentences.  End of article.
May 12, 2012 12:39PM
Remember fellow commision is worth your personal safety!
May 12, 2012 12:32PM

Although I'm a licensed Real Estate Agent, I've never worked as an agent; just did it for my own personal understanding of the real estate business.


The books never mentioned the possibility of assault on the job. But yes, that would, to a criminal mind, be an opportunity. Then again, I haven't a criminal mind.


Watch out people. They're always thinking of ways to do evil. Now, what if those same bad people put as much effort in to doing an honest days work? But then again, who knows what goes on in those devious little brains of theirs.

May 12, 2012 12:21PM
I am an older female real estate agent. I have listed a lot of bank owned vacant homes. In our area, I heard of assauts and murders associated with showing homes. I now carry a weapon. I have a permit and attend regular classes. I don't do stupid things like entering a foreclosed home that looks like it might have someone in it. I leave that to professional law enforcement. I also will not show a house until I can talk with the potential buyer's lender. I rarely do open houses in vacant homes and in nice weather set up in the front yard and let the buyer sign in (waiver of liability) and then let them go in by themselves. Never let myself get cornered. I cannot prevent everything, but I am aware of my surroundings. Sometimes I take my giant German Shepherd. I do very few open houses alone and am even cautious of occupied ones. I make visitors sign in at the door. If they will not do it, explain sorry, per the owner's directions, they cannot enter. I have had people stalk off angry and thinking I am nuts, but better safe than sorry. I think many problems happen becuase we trust the caller or visitor, are anxious to sell our services and do not pay attention.
May 12, 2012 9:19AM
This never occurred to me before...
May 12, 2012 4:14AM
First off, her name is Ashley OKLAND, not Oakland. If you are going to include her name in the article, please spell it right. And secondly, it was not Des Moines, it was West Des Moines. I note the difference because West Des Moines is generally considered a much safer community than the city of Des Moines itself, which has a higher crime rate. Because it happened in an area that typically has a low crime rate, it seemed to rattle people more.
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