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Fatal tragedy after open house reminds Realtors of dangers

10 steps every real estate agent should take to protect themselves

Philadelphia police arrested and charged two men this week in connection with the July 25 carjacking of a Realtor.

Tragically, the criminal act ended with the death of three children, one adult and the injury of several others in the city’s Tioga section.

Jonathan Rosa,19, and Cornelius Crawford, 23, are being charged with three counts of murder in the second degree, conspiracy, robbery, robbery of a vehicle, kidnapping, sexual assault and other related offenses.

Police said the two men carjacked a 45-year-old real estate agent at gunpoint and forced her into the backseat. 

The two suspects allegedly alternated between getting behind the wheel and sexually assaulting the real estate agent, who was held in the backseat of her own SUV. 

The car subsequently crashed, hitting a pedestrian and her three children. The children died immediately and the mother died of injuries later.

This tragic incident serves as a reminder to all real estate agents and Realtors that they must take care and precautions to protect themselves, given the exposed nature of the business.

“The National Association of Realtors works hard to promote safety awareness  and protect its Realtor members, unfortunately like many other jobs that require interacting with the public, selling real estate involves some risk,” a NAR spokesperson told HousingWire on Friday. “NAR remains committed to its members’ personal safety by continuing to help educate Realtors about potential threats and provide them with resources to protect themselves and stay safe."

NAR reminds those working in housing that open houses can be a great sales tool—but hosting one also exposes you to numerous unfamiliar people for the first time.

They encourage real estate agents to take these 10 steps to stay safe.

  1. If possible, always try to have at least one other person working with you at the open house.
  2. Check your cell phone’s strength and signal prior to the open house. Have emergency numbers programmed on speed dial.
  3. Upon entering a house for the first time, check all rooms and determine several “escape” routes. Make sure all deadbolt locks are unlocked to facilitate a faster escape.
  4. Make sure that if you were to escape by the back door, you could escape from the backyard. Frequently, high fences surround yards that contain swimming pools or hot tubs.
  5. Have all open house visitors sign in. Ask for full name, address, phone number and e-mail.
  6. When showing the house, always walk behind the prospect. Direct them; don’t lead them. Say, for example, “The kitchen is on your left,” and gesture for them to go ahead of you.
  7. Avoid attics, basements, and getting trapped in small rooms.
  8. Notify someone in your office, your answering service, a friend or a relative that you will be calling in every hour on the hour. And if you don’t call, they are to call you.
  9. Inform a neighbor that you will be showing the house and ask if he or she would keep an eye and ear open for anything out of the ordinary.
  10. Don’t assume that everyone has left the premises at the end of an open house. Check all of the rooms and the backyard prior to locking the doors. Be prepared to defend yourself, if necessary.

On a side note, HousingWire also encourages Realtors, agents and others in the industry to adopt these practices to help stay safe.

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