More Agents Encounter the Unexpected in Showings

June 22, 2012

More real estate professionals say they are getting an unexpected surprise when they arrive at foreclosed homes: The homes aren’t really vacant. Squatters are living there and it’s led to some awkward — and even dangerous — encounters, they say. 

There have been recent reports of attacks, sexual assaults, and even homicides against real estate professionals who entered homes they thought were vacant, only to find someone else there. 

"There are always potential dangers when showing or previewing any type of property, but vacant homes pose some unique risks," Matt Lombardi, the National Association of REALTORS®’ vice president in charge of NAR’s National Safety Program, told Inman News. "You never know if you're going to encounter drug users, prostitutes, squatters, or even the original home owner who's still living there and is angry that he and his family are about to get kicked out by the bank."

Inman News recently released an article with some tips from safety expert Andrew L. Wooten for real estate professionals in determining whether a home is really vacant before entering: 

  • Walk around the perimeter of the home before you enter to look for any signs that someone may be inside. 
  • Visit vacant homes only during daylight hours. 
  • Check to see if any doors have been unlocked or are open. 
  • Look through the windows to see if there is any trash or blankets scattered around the floor. 
  • Check if cardboard boxes or wood pallets are stacked against any exterior walls, which could be used to climb through a window. 

For real estate professionals who ever suspect someone is in a vacant home, safety experts recommend leaving the property and calling the police immediately.

Source: “Vacant Homes Pose Risks for Agents,” Inman News (June 19, 2012)

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