Realtor Mari Houck was once so annoyed by someone she was showing a house to that she dropped the scene.

“I said I was going to go out and wait until they were done looking at the house, because I didn’t want to be alone with them,” she said. “I had my keys and my purse, got in my car and drove off.”

Houck isn’t the only realtor in Twin Cities to worry about his safety on the job. According to the latest National Association of Realtors Member Safety Report, 16% of women and 9% of men have experienced what they consider to be dangerous situations.

Jason Miller, president of the Minnesota Realtors Association, said reports of crimes against agents — including high-profile kidnapping and murder cases in recent years — have rocked the industry.

“I’ve been in the business for 17 years and I think hearing about [these events] is something that has really catapulted and put the safety of real estate agents at the forefront,” Miller said. “We receive prospect calls almost daily from people we have never met. It’s a real scenario that can happen in this business.”

The Minnesota organization follows recommendations written by the National Association of Realtors (NAR), which has long offered “situational awareness” safety training and has urged real estate companies and individual agents to establish protocols of security.

“We recommend that you first meet at an office and gather information such as verifying a person’s identification, such as a driver’s license, and leave that contact information behind,” Miller said.

Miller’s office goes even further. “Whenever someone on my team meets someone, we know everyone’s schedules,” he said. “We’ve even held screenings, especially if it’s a more vacant setting.”

He also knows officers who regularly share their location via phone tracking.

“We have the tools and technology to let people know where you are, like having your phone tracked and sharing it with someone you trust,” he said.

The heightened concern couldn’t come at a better time, Tim Ferrara, a colleague of Houck’s, told Edina Realty.

“I’ve known five to 10 officers who have left over the years, expressing security concerns,” he said. “Someone has something to say every month or two that they were uncomfortable and didn’t feel safe in a situation.”

Independent and prepared

Some local real estate agencies take it upon themselves to offer self-defense courses to employees.

“We certainly encourage others to adopt their own safety plans,” said Susan Dioury, senior vice president of risk management for the Minnesota Realtors Association. “We certainly encouraged self-defense.”

Paula Meyer has seen an increase in realtors enrolling in her safety courses in recent years.

In 2022, the Edina-based founder of Krav Maga 101 is expected to train agents at more than a dozen real estate offices, double that of last year.

After hearing from colleagues about security concerns, head broker Jesse Godzala brought in Meyers to teach a two-part series at Edina Realty’s Plymouth office this year.

“We’ve had a number of situations where people have been placed in awkward positions,” he said. “We’re just trying to stay ahead of the changing market in realtor security.”

Meyers’ classes focus on how to defuse situations and prevent potential attacks, by constantly scanning a room, creating physical separation between you and a potential attacker, and using authoritative verbal cues.

Although it’s a martial art, Meyers said Krav Maga “is geared towards avoidance, short confrontations to extricate oneself from distress and get to safety,” she said. declared. “While typical martial arts is about strength – beating an opponent and staying in the fight – we don’t want to stay in the fight, we want [prevent] or end it as soon as possible.”

Betty Cole, who has been a real estate agent for 48 years, has had security training in the past. But taking Meyers’ class has helped her reinforce the things she practices, like not walking into a room or walking down basement stairs in front of a client.

The training also provided a space for her and her colleagues to speak candidly about their experiences – and to know that they were not alone.

“I think it’s a good idea for associations to encourage real estate companies to offer this to their agents,” Cole said. “We really put ourselves forward.”