Thomasville-- Meeting with complete strangers by yourself and often in remote locations can become risky business for real estate agents. In Thomasville agents are taking actions to protect themselves.
"Nine out of 10 times you're meeting with people you've never met before and that in and of itself makes it a little dangerous," said Teri Gainey, who has worked in the real estate business for 6 years.
In October of last year, a fellow realtor met a prospective client at the Days Inn in Thomasville. When she took him to see an empty house on the outskirts of the city, he tied her up and robbed her at knife point. "It shook everybody up terribly. Thomasville is a small community in many ways and certainly all the company's work closely together and we're all friends and we're all very concerned for each others safety," said Gainey.
It was a wake up call for nearly every agent in Thomasville. So the criminal justice department at southwest Georgia Technical College put together a safety solutions class for realtors. "We covered various topics. Everything from being safe at the office, because that's where it starts is at the office," said Rachelle Denmark, Instructor and Program Coordinator for the Criminal Justice department at SWGTC.
Re/Max has a policy that requires clients to provide identification before they go out with a broker. "Just in case anything was to happen, they had a basic idea of who it was that came in and who was looking at the property," explained Denmark.
"We have them identify their vehicles and that type of thing. We don't normally get into a car with someone we don't know. We drive our own car or we meet them," added Gainey. Another plan of action is to develop a code word within an agency. "If we were in a situation that we were uncomfortable with we could make a phone call and give the code word to the front desk," said Gainey.
"Something to the effect of 'Can you pull the red file for me?' or 'The house on Myrtle Lane has red trim.' Something to that effect that will alert the office that there is a problem and they need to call someone and send another agent out to their location," said Denmark.
Another key is the buddy system: always make sure someone at the office knows where you are at all times. "Their job by definition is hazardous. I was a law enforcement officer for 17 years and I can tell you I'd rather be a law enforcement officer than a real estate agent because at least I had tools available to me to help me survive and I was trained to do that," Denmark said. After this class, instructors hope many realtors now do have the tools they need to safe on the job.
Southwest Georgia Techinal College plans to hold more safety classes for realtors so everyone has a chance to take advantage of the course.