A 13-year veteran of the industry, broker Sonia Figueroa never thought she would end up deciding to get a gun to feel safe at work.
But three incidents this year made her change her mind: an office robbery, a pit bull attack and what seemed like a drug deal occurring simultaneously as she was doing a showing, prompted Figueroa to sign up for a conceal carry course.
“I want to choose and have control of my own destiny,” she told the Chicago Tribune, “because at this point, I should have been dead.” When she showed up to her class, the instructor told her she was the second broker he’d taught.
Agents’ safety at work, particularly while doing showings in empty apartments or vacant lots, has become an increasing focus with The National Association of Realtors declaring this past September “agent safety month” and working to gather new data about workplace dangers for real estate agents.
Bsed on data currently available from an NAR survey this summer, The Real Deal reported 4 percent of agents declared themselves victims of a crime, but 38 percent of those surveyed said they had felt unsafe at work within the past year.
Figueroa’s decision to carry comes alongside numerous other precautions she has set up as part of her work routines, such as withholding personal details she used to share on social media. She also refuses to work with clients who weren’t preapproved for a home loan.
“It’s not about how much they can afford. It’s is this person who they say they are? And are they intending to actually spend time with you for the right reasons?” she told the Tribune.
Other resources to help agents include mobile phone apps such as Forewarn, which checks clients for violent crime records; NAR’s Trust Stamp that helps verify clients’ identity; and the Chicago-specific Homesnap Safety Timer, which allows agents to set a timer on how long a showing should take after which messages are sent to the agent’s pre-set emergency contacts.
“No sale is worth your life,” Figueroa told the Tribune.
[Chicago Tribune] — E.K. Hudson