Realtor Association encouraging new safety measures

Two incidents have happened over the last few months that put some local realtors in danger while showing homes, and the West Central Association of Realtors is encouraging realtors to take extra caution while on the job.

Earlier this year, a female Realtor was set to show a home in a rural area in Benton County when she had an uneasy feeling about the meeting. According to Dave Wiedeman, association president and a ReMax employee, she called someone to let them know her location and they called for help.

“The party (she was meeting) asked some questions that concerned the realtor so they sent the party in the property and did not enter with them,” Wiedeman said. “At this point the realtor had that bad feeling that things wasn’t right and made contact with a third party, told them where they were and what their situation was. They lost phone contact and the third party made a call to the Benton County sheriff.

“When the party came back out of the house, he indicated he wanted the realtor to enter with him and they refused. I don’t know if there was any threatening words said, but the party did have a crow bar in their hand.”

A Benton County deputy responded to the home quickly, but “they felt they did not have enough information to charge the person,” Wiedeman said.

“No charges were filed, but there was no question the realtor was in danger,” he added.

A second incident occurred in Sedalia when two Realtors went to show a home they thought was vacant and scheduled for closing. When they arrived, they found a man sleeping in a bedroom and a motorcycle in the garage.

“They withdrew from the house, called the owner and he informed them it could be a relative that the police were looking for. They called the police and … the police arrived quickly, and said it was the party they were looking for,” Wiedeman said. “Fortunately (the realtors) were probably at that particular time never in real danger, but could have been because this person was armed and had on occasions been in altercations.”

Due to these recent incidents, as well as a situation last year in Arkansas when a realtor was killed while showing a home, Wiedeman said local Realtors are now on “high alert” and discussions have started about “measures we need to be taking for protection.”

Local realtors have a listing service they use to communicate data with each other regarding properties, and messages can be sent through that system when such incidents arise.

“As a longer term solution, we are on June 17 planning an educational seminar in Sedalia with some concrete things that people can do along with such as apps for our smartphones, some possibly self-defense type things. Some of our members do have conceal carry permits and they choose to carry a weapon,” Wiedeman said.

He said he is not aware of any other local situations in recent years that ended in serious injury to a realtor, but they are still working to take every precaution they can. Wiedeman wanted to remind local residents who may be purchasing a home to not be alarmed when asked for forms of identification by a realtor.

“One of the suggestions from the national association of realtors is that when we are working with people for the first time we are not familiar with, they suggest we ask for ID and a picture of people’s driver’s license and possibly take photo of their license plate,” he said. “We try to have them meet us at our office for the first time.

“It would be helpful from our standpoint if people were aware, we’re not trying to examine a person, but it’s for safety and it’s because there are people in this world that want to take advantage that we’re having to apply some extra safety measures. … Do not consider that (the realtor is) untrustworthy of you, it’s just a standard we’re trying to incorporate into our safety.”

Nicole Cooke can be reached at 660-826-1000 ext. 1482 or @NicoleRCooke.