Assaults, murders of real estate professionals on the rise

Landlords most likely to be homicide victims

Fatal workplace injuries in the real estate industry have reached their highest level since at least 2003, with assaults and violent acts accounting for the largest share of deaths, according to the latest figures from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

In 2010, the latest year for which the BLS has released statistics, there were 63 workplace fatalities in a BLS-defined real estate industry subcategory. The subcategory includes lessors of real estate (landlords); real estate agents and brokers and others who work in brokerage offices; and those who conduct activities related to real estate, such as property managers and appraisers.

That’s up from 53 such fatalities in 2009 — a 19 percent year-over-year increase and the highest level since at least 2003, the earliest year data is available.

Those deaths included 23 homicides, including 12 people employed as property lessors (landlords), and six people who worked in real estate brokerage offices.

In 2010, 940 workers in the real estate and rental and leasing category, which includes but is not exclusive to real estate agents, were victims of a nonfatal assault, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, up from 620 in 2009 and 170 in 2008.

The rise in violence against real estate professionals prompted Inman News to publish a three-part series focusing on personal safety last year.

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A recent survey of Inman News readers found that more than 27 percent who don’t employ open houses as a marketing strategy are worried about safety and liability issues.

A number of companies offer mobile apps that help users broadcast their locations to police dispatchers and other emergency contacts.

The real estate subcategory is part of a more broadly defined "real estate and rental and leasing" BLS category in which there were a total of 89 fatal work injuries in 2010.

In the eight-year span between 2003 and 2010, workplace fatalities were at their lowest level at the height of the housing boom in 2005, with 39 such fatalities recorded. They rose dramatically the following year, to 58, and haven’t been below 50 since then.

Fatal occupational injuries in real estate subcategory, 2003-2010

2003 52
2004 48
2005 39
2006 58
2007 50
2008 56
2009 53
2010 63

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

Fourteen of the 63 fatalities in 2010 were attributed to falls, nine to transportation incidents, and another eight to exposure to harmful substances or environments.

The largest share, 30, were the result of "assaults and violent acts," up from 24 in 2009. These include assaults by others, self-inflicted injury, and attacks by animals. Of the 30, 23 were homicides and six were self-inflicted injuries. Seventeen out of 30 died of gunshot wounds, two more than in 2009.

Between 2003 and 2010, the number of real estate workers who died as a result of homicide was lowest in 2005, at 10, and highest in 2008 and 2010, at 23.

Fatal occupational injuries due to homicide in real estate subcategory, 2003-2010

2003 18
2004 17
2005 10
2006 15
2007 16
2008 23
2009 19
2010 23

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

By contrast, in the U.S. as a whole, the 518 workplace homicides reported by the BLS in 2010 was the lowest level since the bureau began tracking fatal work injuries in 1992.

Of the 63 fatally injured real estate workers, 21 (one-third) were in management occupations, 13 worked in installation maintenance and repair, nine worked in building and grounds cleaning and maintenance, and six worked in construction and extraction occupations.

The number of workplace fatalities among those in sales and related occupations rose to 10 in 2010, from four in 2009.

In terms of what the workers were doing when mortally wounded, the biggest share of injuries (19) occurred while workers were involved in constructing, repairing or cleaning.

More than half of the fatal injuries, 37, occurred in a private residence, up from 30 in 2009. Eleven occurred in a public building, up from eight in 2009.

Wage and salary workers accounted for 35 of the 53 deaths in 2009, and self-employed workers accounted for 18. In 2010, the number of self-employed workers fatally injured on the job fell to 17, while wage and salary workers accounted for 46 deaths.

The vast majority of workplace fatalities in 2010 were among men: 50 out of 63. The number among men was largely unchanged from 2009, rising from 48 deaths, while the number of fatalities among women rose from 5 to 13 in 2010.

Among those fatally injured in 2010, 44 percent were between the ages of 45 and 54, up from 25 percent in 2009. Those age 55 or above accounted for 38 percent of deaths, down from nearly half in 2009.

Just over half (57 percent) of the 2010 fatalities were among non-Hispanic whites, down from two-thirds in 2009. Non-Hispanic blacks accounted for 13 percent of fatalities in 2010, the same share as in 2009. Hispanics accounted for nearly a quarter (24 percent) of deaths in 2010, up from 19 percent in 2009.

Of the 10 additional workplace injury deaths among real estate professionals in 2010, eight occurred among those who work in real estate brokerage offices. Fatal work injuries in that subcategory jumped from five in 2009 to 13 in 2010, a 160 percent increase.

Seven of the 13 deaths were due to assaults or violent acts. Of the seven violent deaths, six were the result of homicide, up from zero in 2009 and three in 2008, according to BLS data. In order to be included in the data, injuries had to take place while on the job, among other criteria.

On Sept. 20, 2010, in incidents that were otherwise unrelated, two real estate agents showing homes in Ohio were killed on the same day.

Violent fatal occupational injuries occurring among those who work in the offices of agents and brokers, 2003-2010:

  2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010
  Assaults and violent acts 9 5 5 - - 3 - 7
    Homicides 7 4 5 - - 3 - 6

Note: Dashes indicate no data or data that do not meet publication criteria.

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

Nine of the 13 workers were in sales or related occupations. Seven of the 13 were self-employed; the remaining six were wage and salary workers. Eight were men and five were women. Seven were seniors (age 65 or above) and four were between the ages of 45 and 54. Ten were non-Hispanic whites. Seven of the fatal injuries occurred in a private residence, and five occurred in a public building.

Nonetheless, it is lessors of real estate (i.e., landlords) who were hardest hit by fatal occupational injuries. In 2010, lessors of real estate accounted for more than half, 34, of real estate workplace fatalities, a slight increase from 31 in 2009. All but four were men.

Half, 17, died from assaults or violent acts, the same number as in 2009. Of the 17, 12 were from homicide, down two from 2009, and four were from self-inflicted wounds, up one from 2009. Ten died from gunshot wounds. Nearly two-thirds of the deaths occurred in a private residence.

Twelve of the workers were in management occupations, eight in installation maintenance and repair, six in building and grounds maintenance and cleaning, and five in construction and extraction.

There were 16 workplace fatalities among those who worked in activities related to real estate, down from 17 in 2009. Of the 16, all but one were property managers. All but four were men. At least 13 were 45 or above. 

Six were killed by assaults or violent acts, up one from 2009, including five by homicide. Three died by gunshot wound. Four deaths were due to falls, and three were due to transportation incidents.

Seven of the workers were in management positions and five worked in installation maintenance and repair. Six of the workers were involved in constructing, repairing or cleaning at the time of injury. Eight were injured in a private residence and three in a public building.

 

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