The opioid crisis is sweeping the nation.
And it’s impacting Realtors®. Some Realtors® report finding signs of drug paraphernalia or squatters in abandoned homes, while others find instances of pills being stolen from homes on the market. What can you do?
John Goshert, chief county detective in Dauphin County, said first and foremost, education is key to keeping yourself safe. “I think education is an important thing for agents,” he said. He suggested offices invite local law enforcement in to educate their agents, or pair up with other offices to organize something, to make everyone more aware of what is out there.
If you feel unsafe or unsure about checking out a home, contact your local law enforcement and see if they can send someone with you. There will be times when other matters are higher priority, but it doesn’t hurt to ask, he said. You can also pair up with someone from your office.
Have a plan in place, so you know what to do in the event something happens. One of the first steps will be to notify law enforcement, he said. If you find drug paraphernalia, do not touch it, it can be extremely harmful to your health.
Ginger Jakubowski, the broker and owner of Ginger Jakubowski Appraisals & Realty Services in the Cambria and Somerset county areas, said she reaches out to local law enforcement when she feels unsafe while visiting a property. “If there is an occurrence where a client calls for an appraisal and the home is in foreclosure, or if someone wants to donate a property or estate that is vacant, I get their permission to reach out to local law enforcement to have them sweep the house for me as we’re walking,” she said.
Jakubowski said that she has found needles, syringes, mattresses, clothing, bags, toys and wrappers while doing home inspections. “Law enforcement are keen on keeping everyone safe when they’re in areas where there may be trouble spot. I have a high appreciation for first responders. It’s a working relationship. They work day and night. We have an amazing core group of individuals that are dedicated to correcting the situation.”
Della Csehoski, CEO of the Cambria Somerset Association of Realtors®, said her association offered a presentation on dealing with the opioid epidemic while being a Realtor®.
“Law enforcement officers explained how we should report it if we see anything. There has been so much news lately about the drugs, they are trying to combat it and putting some good efforts into it,” said Csehoski. “They said if you find anything, call police first, they will help you, don’t touch anything.
Realtors® should also remind clients to hide prescription drugs during showings and open houses, as well as guns, Csehoski added.