Opioid Crisis Presents New Threat to Agents

November 7, 2017

Nearly 38 percent of real estate agents have admitted to fearing for their personal safety on the job at some point. For female agents, the number is closer to half, according to the National Association of REALTORS®’ 2017 Member Safety Report.

And now agents say they’re seeing a new danger emerge from drug addicts.

CNBC reports: “The nation’s opioid crisis has put some real estate agents, especially those who represent higher-end properties, in the crosshairs. Addicts are posing as potential home buyers and booking house tours in order to get access to medicine cabinets.”

Janice Tisdale, a real estate professional with Phyllis Browning Co. in San Antonio, told CNBC she was attacked in 2010 when showing a $750,000 home to a potential buyer. Tisdale was hit over the head and then held hostage.

“He goes, ‘I need money from you right now.’ And I said, ‘Well, I tell you, I have a closing on Monday and its a big one, so if you can wait until Monday I can get you $4,000, and I have no idea why I said that to him, but I was saying anything to him to just go and leave and not kill me,” Tisdale told CNBC.

Tisdale eventually convinced the man to go to his car to get paper for her to write a note that she had been taken hostage. While he did that, she fled. The man, who later admitted to being on drugs at the time of the attack, was arrested and is currently serving 60 years in prison for aggravated robbery.

To help provide more safety for agents, tech firms are sprouting up with new products aimed at the real estate industry. One of the latest is an app called Forewarn, from a subsidiary of Cogint, which is used to conduct instant background checks on potential clients just by using their name or phone number. The company says it provides similar information to law enforcement, government, and insurance carriers.

“When you’re talking about potentially opening up access to a home, to an environment where prescription drugs may lie, a medicine cabinet of a house that is listed for sale, with doing no vetting or checking of an individual, I think we’re feeding into that crisis by creating these channels of easy access to drugs,” James Reilly, CEO of Forewarn, told CNBC.

Source: “New Tech Firm Aims to Protect Real Estate Agents From Opioid Attacks,” CNBC (Nov. 6, 2017)