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Real estate agents risk their lives for you, so you should do this for them

Beverly Carter, an Arkansas real estate agent, was kidnapped and killed last month after showing a house to client who she did not know. Real estate agents, companies, associations and boards are implementing safety strategies that they want buyers to understand.

The U.S. Department of Labor considers real estate sales a high-risk occupation. It is one of the only careers where the professional is expected to meet and show strangers empty houses. They are also required to sit in empty houses and invite strangers to tour them. To top it off, they go to strangers' houses for listing appointments. It is a dangerous job.

After a real estate agent was killed on the job last month, and one was attacked this past weekend, the safety of agents is a priorty across the U.S. As a former real estate agent and a real estate safety trainer, I am here to tell you that there will be changes in the way you work with real estate agents. You are asked to understand why the agent is requesting that you take certain steps. Some that you may think are inconvenient or even consider to be silly. It is to help keep them safe, and your cooperation is appreciated.

1. Request an office visit

When you see a sign in the yard of a house that you want to see, when you call the agent, expect to be invited to come into the office before they will show you the house. Understand why the agent won't drop everything on the spot and meet a complete stranger any time day or night at an empty house.

2. Show your I.D.

In the office the agent will want to make a copy of your I.D. or driver's license. This is to let you know that if something goes wrong and they don't come back from showing you houses, law enforcement officials will have your photo I.D. and will use it to identify you.

3. Share information

Agents will ask you to complete a client information form. This form gives them an idea of where you live and where you work. They deserve to know who they are working with.

4. Get pre-qualified by a lender

If you are serious about buying a house, you will more than likely need to get financing from a lending institution. If you take the steps and have a lender verify your employment and your financial ability to buy a house, the agent knows that you are serious and a legitimate buyer. Therefore, you don't pose a risk to their safety.

5. Understand why they aren't alone

Most agents will now have another agent accompany them when working. It may even be a spouse or friend. There truly is safety in numbers.

6. Understand the pepper spray

They may have the easily identifiable, leather-like case dangling from their key ring or fastened to their waistband. This is their method of protecting themselves in case they feel threatened or uncomfortable. Having it accessible means they can get to it in a hurry. Having it visible means that criminals won't even try anything perceived as possibly dangerous. Don't worry, they will only use it to stop an attack. It is non-lethal.

More and more agents are choosing to carry concealed weapons.

7. Don't ask for a ride

Asking agents to ride in their car is like expecting them to pick-up a hitchhiker. They don't know you that well and would rather you follow them to the property in your own car.

8. Put away valuables in your home

When your house is on the market, it is easy for criminals to target it. Make your agent's job safer by getting medicine out of medicine cabinets, jewelry out of jewelry boxes, bank statements and mail out of sight. Put away small electronics that can be easily stolen. That way your agent won't have to risk their safety protecting your stuff.

These are small steps that agents ask consumers to follow to keep them safe while working. If you, your wife, mother, daughter or sister was a real estate agent, wouldn't you want them to take whatever steps were necessary to work safely?

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