Creeps and Realtors: Safety of Women in Real Estate - Can a Body Camera Help?

In April of 2019 I  met a realtor couple that was working as a team. Through our conversations the topic of wearable cameras came up. They were both very interested in what we were trying to do with this company, and shared some experiences that were obvious in retrospect, but eye-opening to me at the time.

Although the Mr. and Mrs. Realtor work together, they have some rules between the two of them. One of these rules is that Mrs. Realtor never does an Open House on her own. Unlike scheduled house showings, with an Open House a woman can find herself alone in a secluded place with a complete stranger. Of course, the vast majority of people that we see every day are decent folks without nefarious motives, but if you’re going to be in the business long enough you will meet the 0.01% that aren’t. If you’re a woman in real estate it’s not a question of “if” you’re going to run into a creep with frightening motives, but rather a question of “when”. Mrs. Realtor had some cringeworthy experiences in her life, but she also spoke about some incidents that made the news.

Just this year in April, there have been a number of police cases opened around the Metro Vancouver area whereby a man would ask female realtors to show him properties and insist that they come alone. According to the bulletin to real estate members: “He’ll attempt to set up showings or tours and will insist that the realtor come alone …  if the realtor refuses to do so he’ll get angry.” – this is something that was caught and flagged early, and the police are on it, but how many cases weren’t?

A quick Google search tells me that there is a wealth of advice on how to stay safe as a realtor, which ranges from arriving to a showing before the client, to avoiding walking in front of people while showing a property. It looks like various real estate associated will post their own handbooks and guides. Frankly as I read through all this advice, I find it hard to believe that someone can keep all of this in the back of their head while reading the social queues and working in a sales role effectively. Somewhere someone is having to make a compromise between safety and earnings. The deck is stacked pretty hard against women real estate agents. 

Coming back to our acquaintance couple, unless they are working with known clients Mr. Realtor is always the one to meet them. This negatively impacts their team’s schedule. They are convinced that they lost out on some deals, but they would rather be safe than sorry.  

Mr. and Mrs. Realtor told me that they don’t believe Shonin or other body camera and video solutions can entirely address the safety issues that women real estate agents face, but they do believe that a proliferation of wearable security cameras will have help deter the creeps. We can’t solve this problem overnight, but we can make a good step in the right direction. And we will.