Daily Real Estate News | Friday, February 06, 2015
More state REALTOR® associations are warning their members about a flood of suspicious phone calls that real estate agents are receiving from a man posing as a prospective buyer who then takes the conversation too personal.
The San Antonio Board of REALTORS® in Texas recently issued a warning to its members after 50 female agents said they had received harassing phone calls or text messages from a man who repeatedly requested in-person visits. Now, the Virginia Association of REALTORS® is warning their real estate professionals about similar phone calls. Female agents in Massachusetts also reported getting similar calls late last year.
In San Antonio, female agents say the man has been “leaving strange messages,” sending photos of himself, contacting them during all hours of the day, and discussing personal information of agents, such as their maiden names. The female agents say the man has used the name “Michael” and has a phone number area code of 210.
The Virginia Association of REALTORS® also issued a safety warning this week, reporting that female agents were receiving persistent calls from a man who was requesting they show him houses after dark in isolated areas by themselves. The man is calling from a blocked number that does not show up on agents’ caller IDs.
The Virginia agents say that if they offer to have a male colleague show the property instead, the man refuses. He also refuses to meet the agents during the day in their offices or in public places to sign paperwork first.
“This is one of the situations that REALTORS® face that sets off our alarm bell,” says Deborah Baisden, president of the Virginia Association of REALTORS®. “REALTORS® generally have their radar working and can identify a potentially threatening situation. However, we are very concerned about our members’ safety and want to alert them to any suspicious behavior… We’re trying to get the word out to members to be vigilant, to listen to their sixth sense. In our rush to serve our clients and get properties sold, we sometimes don’t pause and say, ‘Is this the right thing to do?’ ”
Late last year, RE/MAX real estate professional Dawn Rusin told Boston’s NewsCenter 5 that she, along with other agents in her office, had received suspicious calls from a man who had researched their backgrounds online and then asked to meet. It’s unclear if all these situations reported in recent months involve the same male caller.
“He starts off saying he knows them. Like, ‘Hi Jenny,’ ‘Hi Donna, how ya doing? Do you remember me? You showed me a property a couple of weeks ago. Then he starts acting strange, like, ‘This is what you want? You just want to make money?'”
Rusin, who operates RE/MAX Right Choice in Fall River, Mass., said at least five of her agents had received such phone calls as well, and that her brokerage has made it a requirement that any new clients come into the central offices before a real estate professional will agree to meet them remotely. It’s a move other brokerages have adopted recently too, in the wake of the murder of Arkansas real estate agent Beverly Clark this past fall that gripped national headlines.
Source: “Safety Warning Issued to Female REALTORS® in Virginia,” ABC-13 News (Feb. 3, 2015); “Serial Stalker of REALTORS® Settles in San Antonio,” HousingWire (Feb. 4, 2015); “Fall River Police Probe Series of Suspicious Calls to REALTORS®,” WCVB-5 ABC News (Nov. 9, 2014); and “Suspicious Caller Targeting Female Home-Sellers in Virginia,” The Virginian-Pilot (Feb. 4, 2015)
Reprinted from REALTOR® Magazine Online, January 2015, with permission of the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS®. Copyright January 2015. All rights reserved. http://realtormag.realtor.org