Earlier this year, REALTORS® in the Brantford, Ontario area noticed a strange pattern emerging in their community. Reports surfaced of an unusual man frequenting local open houses. Initially, he appeared as just another prospective buyer, however, it soon became clear he had other purposes in mind.
“From the beginning, I felt him to be exceedingly nervous. He was sweating a lot and wore baggy clothing,” explained REALTOR® and salesperson Dina Dalia. “He entered the house while I was busy with a few clients. I asked him to give me a moment while I finished up, but he insisted on having a look by himself. Five minutes later he came back, thanked me for my help, and left, but not before giving me his contact information.”
Not long after, Dalia realized some of the homeowner’s jewelry was missing. She tried dialing the number he gave her but, as expected, it was fake. Dalia wasn’t the only Brantford REALTOR® to encounter the suspicious individual, similar stories arose on Facebook.
“I never felt like I was in real danger, I was more concerned for my clients,” says Dalia. “But then it struck me, what if things had been different? What if he had other intentions? It certainly gave me food for thought.”
REALTORS® can often find themselves working on their own, in isolated areas and working with unfamiliar people. Knowing how to defend yourself in a dangerous situation can be a valuable asset but taking steps to mitigate potential danger before it happens is equally important.
Here are five tips to help you stay safe at your next open house:
1. Take advantage of daylight
Whenever possible, avoid showing properties at night. If you find yourself at a property later than usual, considering bringing someone along with you or, at the very least, inform a colleague or friend of your schedule. Inside, keep things bright and visible by opening curtains and turning on all lights.
2. Stay aware
Just because the open house is over, doesn’t mean you’re in the clear. Check rooms, closets and other inconspicuous spaces to make sure the house is empty before locking the doors. Leave your car in a well-lit area and be sure you have a clear path to get to it.
3. When in danger, run
If you’re feeling threatened, get yourself out of danger. Survey your surroundings for the easiest and quickest escape. While knowing self defence is important, never fight when you can run.
4. Plan ahead
Part of being prepared to deal with a threatening situation is having “an out” in your back pocket. Prepare a few scenarios in advance that will allow you to leave on short notice. Whether you claim to be meeting a friend or need to make a phone call, a good excuse can sometimes defuse a dangerous situation.
5. Check in with colleagues and friends
If you find yourself on a late-night walk to your car, help reduce your vulnerability by calling a colleague or friend. Not only does it discourage any uncomfortable conversations with strangers, it can help send a message that you have people keeping tabs on you and your safety.
See our extended list on REALTOR Link® for more safety tips to help equip you with the knowledge to detect and avoid potentially unsafe situations.