A realtor was allegedly attacked during an open house at this home on McKenzie Drive S.E. on Saturday, June 22, 2019.
A real estate agent reported a sexual assault during an open house at a Calgary home on Saturday — a situation that realtor Merideth Schutter said Monday she is all too familiar with.Six years ago, when Schutter was only a few years into her career, two men walked into an open house she was hosting in Vancouver, locked the door behind them and attempted to assault her.“I got lucky because someone came into the back door and interrupted the guys as they threw me up against the counter,” said Schutter.“I left that situation, feeling all sorts of things. Obviously feeling isolated, scared and alone.”Schutter said when she asked friends and fellow agents, she discovered she wasn’t alone in feeling unsafe at open houses and showings. She decided to come up with a better solution and after a couple years of research and work with a small team launched the PROtect app last spring. The timed-alert app syncs with calendars and contacts, allowing selected contacts to be alerted when the user doesn’t check in during and after an event.During the reported assault on Saturday, a man allegedly grabbed and sexually touched the real estate agent when she tried to end the conversation with him. He left but returned later to find the realtor had locked the door and called for help. As of Monday afternoon, the investigation was ongoing with no suspects in custody.Local agent Kristina Lozic expressed her sadness in the attack and voiced her own concerns for safety in the industry.“When you’re a young female, you’re alone in the house most of the time. A lot of young realtors can’t afford to pay for an assistant,” said Lozic.Lozic, who’s been an agent for four years, said she takes extra precautions, like having her mother or friends visit during an open house, but she’s still had her fair share of negative interactions.“Just a couple weeks ago, I had a guy calling me because he saw me putting up the open house signs. He came to the house and, I think, he had had a bit to drink. He was pouring water in all the pots and pans. It was totally harmless but it reminds you that you are alone with people you don’t know.”Lozic said as soon as news of the reported sexual assault broke, she wasn’t able to log into her Calgary Real Estate Board (CREB) account without reading an article about what happened.CREB manager of member practice Ryan DeLuca said they try to be proactive in getting agents critical information.“One time is too many … We offer a robust safety training program for our members to ensure they’re as safe as possible while doing their work,” said DeLuca.Bryan Douey, communications and connections manager with Real Estate Council of Alberta, said there are mandatory safety courses that all licensed agents take. They are working with Jeff Buziak, whose daughter was killed during the showing of a B.C. home in 2008, to expand their current education program.
Jeff Buziak, whose daughter Lindsay, a realtor in Victoria B.C., was murdered in 2008. File photo
In a statement, Alberta Real Estate Association CEO Brad Mitchell said members had access to another safety app but it was removed because “the technology wasn’t where it needed to be.” They are still investigating the best solution to safety concerns.RE/MAX has sponsored PROtect so all its realtors have free access, which regional executive vice-president Elton Ash said was a step in the right direction.“It’s an important role for us as a franchise, in providing more tools to help ensure realtor safety,” said Ash.Schutter wanted to empower realtors and other young professionals through the app, something she said she didn’t have six years ago.“This is a deep, dark secret that isn’t discussed enough. I know I wasn’t prepared and that was one of the reasons I was angry after what happened to me,” said Schutter.firstname.lastname@example.orgOn Twitter: @BabychStephanie