Suspicious 'buyer' prompts warnings for women realtors
Multiple police files are open throughout Metro Vancouver after a number of women reported a suspicious man growing angry when the real estate agents refused to show him properties for sale one-on-one.
The Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver said the reports started a couple weeks ago and surged over the weekend, prompting a second warning in addition to an initial safety bulletin to its female members.
“He’ll attempt to set up showings or tours and will insist that the realtor come alone,” said a bulletin to members. “If the realtor refuses to do so he’ll get angry.”
"It’s scary for anybody to be uncomfortable in their workplace and be worried about their safety so it is a good reminder because we have had unfortunate circumstances in the past, even locally, where there’s been violence and trouble like that,” said board president Ashley Smith.
She says reports of the disturbing behaviour originated in the Tri-Cities and prompted an initial warning on April 12, but they’ve since had police reports filed in other jurisdictions, including from New Westminster, Delta and Vancouver real estate agents. The board has received reports in Richmond and Burnaby as well. Many of the listings targeted have been near SkyTrain stations and the suspect has been focused on private showings as well as open houses, angling to get a female realtor alone in the listing with him.
The bulletin describes the suspect as a soft-spoken man of about 30 years old and going by the name “Sean Z” or “Lee Chang”.
Coquitlam RCMP say they've had two reports of a man they call a suspect, but that the realtors did not meet with the man and instead reported the suspicious behaviour. Vancouver Police say they've also had two reports of a man they believe they have identified.
"Although our officers have not located evidence of a criminal offence, we are taking these reports seriously and have assigned a detective to look into the Vancouver incidents," reads an email from Const. Jason Doucette.
Official are urging realtors not to show listings alone, report suspicious behaviour to their local police, trust their instincts to and document client descriptions and licence plate numbers.
“Notify someone in your office or a friend that you’ll call every hour on the hour. If you don’t call, they should notify police,” concludes the warning bulletin.
Smith says other prospective home buyers may notice a change in protocols in the coming days.
"This is a bit of an uncomfortable moment for realtors and this is top of mind so if you’re entering an open house over the weekend and the agent who’s there asks for your name or identification or anything like that nature, just be understanding we are trying to make sure we’re safe and protected and it’s certainly not personal.”