The following incident should serve as a wake-up call to real estate offices and their agents everywhere.
As reported in the May 14, 2014 Charlotte Observer, Brian Harold Cooper, 49, faces one count each of rape, attempted rape, felonious restraint and kidnapping, and two counts of sexual assault. Cooper, of Granite Quarry NC, is accused of raping a real estate agent with whom he had an appointment to tour homes.
Police said Cooper met the agent at her office before driving together to the first house. Once inside, the assailant choked her, pulled out a knife and threatened to kill her if she didn’t do as he said. After he sexually assaulted the agent, he instructed her to take him to the second property. Before doing so, police said the agent called her office and used a predetermined code word to alert them that she was in distress. The victim and assailant then went to the second house where she was assaulted again.
Police say another agent, unaware of the assault, entered the home and the victim immediately left and called 911. Cooper was arrested at his residence later that day.
Unfortunately, similar assaults on real estate agents are not isolated incidents. Charlotte-area real estate officials say the incident serves as a fresh reminder of the risks agents face as they show homes – usually by themselves – to people who are often strangers.
In light of this heinous incident, real estate agents and their offices should institute plans and procedures when showing homes, such as:
- Always bring a buddy or another agent when showing homes, especially if you don’t know the prospective buyer!
- Do not host an open house alone.
- Real estate offices should have a safe word or phrase, with procedures on what the office should do when the safe word is used.
- If an office or agent receives a cold call from someone asking to view a property, record for the office the person’s contact information, including home and work address, phone numbers, etc.
- If an agent finds herself in a situation where she’s uncomfortable, carry your keys in your fist (keys facing outward from knuckles) to use as a slashing weapon. Or use your cell phone to call for assistance before entering a questionable situation.
- When at a viewing, agents should never park their car in such a way that they could be blocked into a driveway.
Warren Goldberg is President of Mortgage Wealth Advisors, a Certified Mortgage Planning Specialist®, and a published author. His interviews include Blog-Talk Radio, Newsday, and the Long Island Herald. Since 1992, he’s been sharing his financial knowledge and wealth-building strategies, including how to properly use your mortgage as a financial tool. His clients regularly express their trust and appreciation by recommending friends and family call when in need of mortgage, real estate, and financial guidance.