Agent at Risk - Don't Sacrifice Your Personal Safety  


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05/06/2018 7:22 am  
Friday, May 12, 2006 - By Mary Umberger, Chicago Tribune
CHICAGO, (KRT) - On the rare occasions when real estate agent Lanora Walker agrees to hold open houses for her clients, she gets there early and hides the knives.

"I put all the sharp objects, all the knives, underneath the bed," said the Lansing agent. "I put away fingernail files and nail clippers."

Walker is adamant about not becoming a crime victim on the job. She prefers not to host open houses because she doesn't like the idea of being in a vacant home with a sign in front that invites strangers to come in off the street.

When she goes to an appointment with a potential client, Walker checks for the person's name in a sex-offender registry. She diligently informs her office of her whereabouts every minute of her workday.

Paranoia? Probably not.

In the realm of "dangerous jobs," being a real estate agent hardly carries the risk factor that, say, driving a taxi does. But beneath the smiles and salesmanship, some agents feel unease.

In 2003 and 2004, 42 realty and apartment-leasing agents and managers died from violent attacks on the job, according to the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The rate of crime doesn't appear to be going up, but the issue got a jolt of attention in the industry after two agents in Florida were attacked in separate incidents within the space of two weeks in March.

"It is a dangerous occupation. You never know who you're going to meet," said Janice Flasschoen, one of the Florida agents, who was showing a home in South Daytona Beach when her client came at her with a hammer.

In April, the Georgia Association of Realtors put out an alert about a man claiming to be a former Seattle Mariners baseball player. He abducted and robbed an agent April 4 and apparently has approached other agents, identifying himself in the same way.

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