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Omaha realtors address safety options following murder of local agent

Published: Dec. 30, 2020 at 5:27 PM CST
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OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - The death of Omaha realtor Michael Sodoro is raising awareness of other property managers in the area.

“We always arrive at the house early...we always get the house opened up so we’re not fidgeting with the lock,” said Birnstihl.

Jason Birnstihl has worked as a realtor in Omaha for around 18 years.

He says walking into a house with a stranger is a great unknown.

“We had some experiences that you’d classify s scary or spooky...”

Birnstihl says there are some protocols his company follows when showing a property.

“We always make sure that the buyer stays in front of us. The minute you turn your back, you risk becoming a victim. So, to have that face to face contact is crucial,” said Birnstihl. “There are even some places where we won’t follow a buyer too.”

Birnstihl says it’s important to have a potential escape route. He says following a prospect downstairs and remaining near the stairs helps ensure safety.

Jeremy Aspen of Wistar group says Sodoro’s death strikes close to home.

“We have a house available in that neighborhood also for rent,” said Aspen.

Aspen says a little homework before a showing goes a long way.

“We always get somebody to send us a copy of a driver’s license. We get credit card information upfront, so we definitely know who it is or have a way to trace back to somebody,” said Aspen.

Aspen’s agents all carry safety devices.

“pepper spray, I bought chirpers...a really loud irritating alarm...and I actually like that one best because it draws people towards,” said Aspen.

He says agents can also wait outside and let the client do a self-tour or even a virtual tour.

Aspen says ultimately, it’s the agent’s call.

“There’s no matrix that says if this and then this don’t go in.”

Birnstihl says realtors have to trust their instincts.

And there’s an ultimate choice.

“A number of us are carriers of concealed weapons. That’s not for everyone but if it’s something you feel comfortable with and you’re willing to get the training, it is an option,” said Birnstihl.

“You don’t know house to house what you’re going to encounter.”

Realtors we spoke with also say the buddy system is a good idea, especially for women who may feel uncomfortable. Realtors routinely call each other asking for accompaniment to a showing.

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