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Real estate agents face danger on the job

Alison Bowen, Chicago Tribune on

Published in Home and Consumer News

Also, she doesn't work with anyone who has not been preapproved for a home loan. "To put that check in place, for me, has been really helpful," she said. "It's not about how much they can afford. It's is this person who they say they are? And are they intending to actually spend time with you for the right reasons?"

Debbie Maue, vice president of sales at Sotheby's International Realty, has been in the business nearly three decades. She advises agents to let the doorman know they are showing a property, if there is a doorman, and to create an emergency code with one's office. If an agent calls the office and asks to, for example, pull the red folder, that is a signal for help. She also tells agents to lock a home's door so guests have to knock.

Once, Maue said, her husband came to an open house when a man refused to leave. After that, she started keeping a knife under papers on her desk.

Apps also are helping agents stay safe. Forewarn helps agents check if potential clients have a history of violent crime; Trust Stamp, through the national Realtor association's technology accelerator program, also helps realty agents authenticate consumers' identities. The Chicago Realtor group recommends Homesnap Safety Timer, free to agents and brokers. The app allows an individual to set a timer tied to a GPS location, such as a home listing. When time's up, a message is sent to the agent's emergency contacts.

Despite potential dangers, Figueroa's enthusiasm for her career hasn't waned. Quitting was never an option.


"I really love it, and I've been doing it for so many years," she said. "I can't see myself doing anything else."

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