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What Las Vegas Can Teach Us About Agent Safety

April 02 2015

aceI've never been much of gambler. However, when I was in Vegas last month, I had some time to kill so I sat down to play a little blackjack since it's the only game I understand. I found a $10 table (I'm such a high roller), and decided to watch for a bit before playing.

The vast majority of the time, I observed hands that had a moderate level of risk. I watched people lose some hands and win some hands, but no one ever won big or lost big. But then I noticed a woman who seemed win hands when she increased her bet and lose when she bet the minimum. She started with $100 and when she left the table an hour or so later, she had won about $1000.

I figured she must have been counting cards, something I had heard of but knew nothing about. Time to hit the Internet! What I learned is that counting cards is merely a method of assessing the risk of both the deck and the individual hand so the player can adjust the bet accordingly.

It occurred to me that the same lesson should be applied to the practice of selling real estate. An important factor in not being a victim of a crime is learning how to assess the risk of each prospect. Make no mistake--most criminals are not stupid. They have trained in their craft for years and have learned how to lure real estate agents into high risk situations. Unfortunately, it is not uncommon that the things a criminal will say to get you alone in house are often similar to what a legitimate buyer will say.

So how can you assess risk? Simple. The following is a easy system for assessing risk. Apply a positive number to some characteristics, apply a negative number to others, and adjust your behavior based on the number. The following are some characteristics and their value:

The Prospect

  • The prospect is a stranger -1
  • They found me on the Internet -1
  • Cash buyer -2
  • Looking for a foreclosure -1
  • From out of town -1
  • Referral from previous client +1
  • Close friend or relative referred you +2
  • You confirmed the prospect with the referrer +3

The conversation

  • Prospect can't articulate specifics of what they are looking for in a home -2
  • Prospect says they can only meet at a specific time and that time is after dark -2
  • Prospect says they are an investor looking for empty homes -1
  • Prospect says you can't call them back -3
  • Prospect stumbles over lifestyle questions -2
  • Prospect is specific about what they are looking for in a home +1
  • Prospect is flexible with meeting time/date +1
  • Prospect is open to seeing other homes +1
  • Prospects freely gives phone number +1
  • Prospect says they will be bringing kids +1

The Property

  • The property is "off the beaten path" -2
  • There is no or poor cell phone reception -3
  • The property is poorly lit -1
  • The property has a basement -1
  • The property has only one exterior door -1
  • The property is in a typical suburban neighborhood +1
  • Good cell phone reception +1
  • The property is well lit +1
  • There are multiple exit doors +1
  • One story home +1


  • You can't put your finger on it, but something is unsettling -8

Let's look at an example situation. A buyer calls you saying they found you on the Internet (-1) and the home they want to see is a one story house (+1). They are not entirely sure what they are looking for beyond a one story, but they liked this house on the Internet (-2) and say they work until 8pm and can't meet in the morning before work (-2). However, the house is in a crowded neighborhood (+1), and has good cell phone reception (+1). When we add up the numbers, they equal to -2. This situation is moderately risky, so this may be a situation where you may want to take extra precautions and possibly even bring someone with you.

The above list is by no means a complete list. If you have an item you think should be added, please email me at lee[at] We will keep a running list and then make that checklist available for everyone to use.

And always remember, Get Real. Sell Safe.Get Real. Sell Safe.