A friend of mine is a Realtor in Northern Virginia. Early last week her company sent out an email alert about a strange man who had been calling around asking to see vacant houses in the area. He refused to see anything but vacant houses and he refused to show any ID.
The fact is, being a Realtor can be a pretty dangerous job. After all, you’re meeting complete strangers at vacant houses, which makes you an easy target for the criminal element. Of course, it’s not only Realtors who are an easy target. If you own rental properties you’re also a target because you likely go meet complete strangers at your properties too.
One of the smartest things a Realtor or investor can do is to thoroughly screen people over the phone. Let them know that they must bring an ID with them and that it is company policy that you check their ID before they are allowed in the house.
Also, let the person know that if you are a female, your husband or boyfriend will be accompanying you.
When you get to the house you can also park a little down the street and wait for the person to get out of the car so you can observe them. For instance, if the person gets out of the car and suspiciously starts looking all around them to see if anyone is around, you should obviously drive away. Or, if they get out of the car and you see them put a gun in their waistband or a knife, it would again, probably be a good idea to drive away.
The most important thing to remember is to always trust your gut. If you talk to someone over the phone and get a bad feeling, don’t even bother showing them the house. If you get to the house and get a bad vibe, tell them you’re sick and need to leave, or make up some type of emergency.
It’s okay to be rude…
What you don’t want to do is to brush aside your worries because you don’t want to seem rude or impolite. Your life is obviously very valuable so don’t let society brainwash you into thinking you have to let someone talk you into something you’re not comfortable with.
I remember several years back when I was looking at properties in Baltimore City, MD. Two large gentlemen came out of one of the houses and said they wanted to sell their place and were a little too anxious to get me to come in the house and see the basement. They tried to be persuasive but I told them no thanks, as there was no way I was going into the basement with two guys who were about 10 times bigger than I was.
My last bit of advice is to always have at least one hand free to protect yourself. What I mean is, if you’re meeting a potential tenant at a property, don’t walk up to the house with your hands completely full of documents and other things so you’re an easy target. Have your right hand free (if you’re right handed) that way you can fight someone off and escape if, heaven forbid, you should ever be attacked.