When you think of the most dangerous jobs in America, you might think police, industrial machinery workers, or even truck drivers. One thing that probably doesn’t make your list is being a real estate agent. But the sad truth is real estate agents face serious danger every day they’re on the job.
Every time an agent meets a new client, shows vacant properties by themselves, or lets strangers into their car, they could be putting their personal safety in jeopardy. The problem is most real estate agents don’t have any security training and the very nature of their job (showing properties to strangers) makes them a prime target for predators.
But don’t take our word for it. Here are 7 recent cases of extreme violence against real estate agents.
1. Disgruntled client shoots realtor over price of home
Michigan real estate agent Troy VanderStelt was murdered in 2008 during a meeting with 73-year-old client Robert Johnson. Johnson went into the agent’s office around 8 a.m. for a meeting. The men went into the conference room, and that’s when Johnson pulled a handgun and shot VanderStelt at point blank range in the face. The agent died.
Some reports indicate that Johnson killed VanderStelt because he was upset about having paid too much for his home. When Johnson tried to sell the home, the poor real estate market meant that his home was no longer worth what he’d paid. Johnson blamed his agent, and decided to murder him.
2. 3 Ohio real estate agents attacked within a week
Recently, 2 Ohio real estate agents were murdered and another was robbed. One agent was found strangled in a burning home that had been on the market. The next day, another agent was found shot to death in another vacant home that was for sale. A third agent was robbed at gunpoint when she was showing an apartment building.
It seems that the cases aren’t related, but police are investigating to see if there’s a link. For right now, many Ohio agents are scared and some have even cut back on business until these cases are solved.
3. Man sentenced to death for murder of 2 Atlanta agents
In 2003, Stacy Humphrey murdered 2 Atlanta real estate agents—Cyndi Williams and Lori Brown—at their offices. He robbed the agents at their on-site sales offices to get money for his truck payment. He even led officers on a multi-state chase, but he was eventually captured in Wisconsin. He was put on trial and sentenced to death for the murders.
4. Real estate agent found fatally stabbed 27 times
In one of the most brutal murders on this list, a Texas real estate agent was found dead in a model home, fatally stabbed 27 times. She also had bite marks and showed signs of being beaten. These were all indications that Sarah Anne Walker didn’t die quietly, she fought back valiantly. Her killer, Kosoul Chanthakoummane, was eventually caught and arrested. He was sentenced to death for his horrific acts. Police believe he may also have been targeting other real estate agents.
5. Unsolved murder mystery still leaves detectives baffled
Unfortunately, not all cases are solved. In 2008, 24-year-old real estate agent Lindsay Buziak was found stabbed to death in a home she was showing a couple. The police believe the murderers were contract killers, but they’re still not sure who hired them, why they were hired, or even who the killers were.
The lack of quality leads caused the police to reach out to the popular TV show Dateline NBC for help. The TV show aired recently with a one-hour feature of the case, and it has led to a number of leads from viewers. We can only hope these leads will cause the killers to be caught so justice can be served.
6. Realtor found murdered in foreclosed home
A California real estate agent was found stabbed to death on the living room floor in a foreclosed home he was showing to prospective buyers. The victim was 45-year-old Ricardo Contreras, an agent with 25 years of experience.
7. 71-year-old female agent murdered while showing a home
In 2008, 71-year-old female real estate agent Ann Nelson was found murdered in a home she was showing. She had been strangled, beaten with a fireplace poker, and robbed. The man who killed her, James Hole, was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.
What do you think real estate agents could do to be safer on the job?