Unfortunately, during the last two months, I have received more calls and emails about one topic than any other. Safety!
We have put out alerts on the Members Only Site, included them in the 5-Minute REALTOR®, highlighted them in The Edge, featured them on the cover of the Houston REALTOR® magazine and more. Helping a client sell, purchase or lease a property doesn’t mean much if you are harmed in the process.
Last fall, the HAR Communications and Professional Development Departments jointly offered REALTOR® safety courses because we heard from so many members who asked for that kind of support from their Association. The courses were well attended but not nearly as much as we would have expected considering the number of members who contacted us about various issues they had experienced.
Hopefully you all know about the “Foot Fetish Creep” by now since we have been following him for a couple of years and have put out numerous alerts about him. Even the broader press has written about him.
Now, we are hearing more about a man who calls, typically giving the name Andy or Eddie, and asking to be shown vacant properties above a certain dollar figure. He only calls female agents, and fortunately, the REALTORS® either sense that something is wrong and hang up or he hasn’t shown up when they have actually scheduled a showing. The latter group has always taken a husband or boyfriend with them since they did still have an inkling that he was making somewhat odd requests.
At the same time, we have received calls from members who have been contacted by prospective buyers who might ask to look at properties above a certain price point but don’t meet any of the other typical behaviors. In these cases, we hope those are just legitimate people looking to buy a property. It is wise to be cautious but not so much so that it prevents you from doing business.
Another member was driving down the highway and received a call on her cell phone. The caller said that he was driving behind her and that she had a flat tire. The member had a magnetic sign on the side of her car that had her cell phone number listed. She indicated that she didn’t think she had a flat tire but appreciated the call. The caller repeatedly tried to get her to pull over so he could “help her” change her tire. He followed her for a while and eventually left her alone. It goes without saying that her tires were fine when she finally got home. Even someone appearing to be doing a good deed can have impure motives.
Most recently, there were two jewelry thefts during open houses at high-end properties; one in Memorial, and the other in West University Place. The alleged perpetrator was described as being a white male in his 50s, with short gray hair and a somewhat stocky build. In both cases, he arrived at the open house before it was scheduled to start and asked to be able to view the property before the designated open house hours. The most recent incident involved him being caught in the act and pushing an agent out of the way to escape. You may see several mug shots below.
All of these occurrences serve to highlight the continuing need to use your head and trust your instincts. If you feel like something isn’t right, please call someone. Better safe than sorry. Also, HAR is working on a couple of things to help our members stay safe that we hope to announce very soon. Keep a watch out for that…and for those people around you.