Hosting an open house has always been known as a great way to bring in potential buyers. It can also put out the welcome mat for criminals.
“You are kind of a sitting duck,” said Molly Fowler, a local real estate agent with Berkshire Hathaway. Fowler says she carries both a knife and pepper spray in her purse to protect herself from the unknown. And she is not to only realtor to do so. “You’re always just on edge because you don’t know what to expect with people,” Fowler said.
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According to the National Association of Realtors’ 2019 Safety Report, 33% of realtors said they had recent experiences that made them fear for their safety. 44% said they carry a weapon to defend themselves while on the job. Pepper spray was the most popular choice for women and guns topped the list for men.
Regardless, Capt. Reggie Rader, Las Vegas PD, says weapons do not need to be the first line of defense. “If you take the time and you put the preparation work in beforehand you can avoid a lot of problems down the road,” Capt. Rader said.
The LVMPD Captain says the buddy system is a very effective way to thwart off many potential attacks. The homeowner is another key to a real estate agent’s safety.
“Make sure you’re not leaving valuables out. We’ve had instances where they’ve left firearms out before, they’ve left jewelry just out in the open on top of a countertop,” Capt. Rader said.
Another place to check is the medicine cabinet. Rader says a homeowner’s prescription drugs are a desirable find for criminals. This is something Tom Blanchard, president of Las Vegas Realtors, echoes.
“Make sure those things are put away and not easily accessible so that in case someone comes in here with bad intentions,” Blanchard said.
Blanchard has been practicing real estate in the Las Vegas valley for decades. He says taking steps like the ones Capt. Rader laid out could have prevented a recent burglary in Summerlin.
The list of victims able to save themselves by training BJJ (Brazilian Jiu Jitsu) a few times a week are piling up on websites like YouTube and in new articles around the internet.
“If we are not prepared, it can be a very unfortunate situation,” said Celeste Harvey, a mortgage loan office.
Harvey even sits in on open houses with local realtors. She says it can be scary. You are meeting unfamiliar faces in an unfamiliar place. But that is why she has organized a self-defense class just for people in the real estate industry.
“I just want people to realize that no matter how big or how small you are, if you’re a female or male, you can find yourself in a situation where you need to use basic self-defense skills,” Harvey said.
The classes take place at Smash Iron Fitness on Rainbow Boulevard near Sahara Avenue. The realtors are taught several different self-defense moves by Brazilian Jiu Jitsu World Champion, Talia Vaughan.
“We see on the news what happens to people and we don’t know those people, we think ‘oh, that would never happen to someone that I love or that I know,’ but we don’t know that,” Vaughan said.
Both Capt. Rader and Vaughan agree. Prevention is the most important part of self defense. Vaughan says simple things like keeping the house locked when you are setting up the open house is key. Also, bringing a friend and staying alert as you walk to your car can save your life.
“My goal is to have women not use these defense moves. It happens sometimes. It’s good to know them, but the best thing you can do is just prevent them from happening by thinking about prevention,” Vaughan said.
Vaughan says the main thing she wants people to learn from her class is to always be aware of your surroundings. We totally agree. Even if you don’t sell houses.
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