Realtor Safety! A MAJOR Concern written by Steve Mueller
Today, the nation received news that the body of real estate agent Beverly Carter was found following her disappearance last week. It has been reported that she was showing a home to someone she did not know, and was kidnapped. It is absolutely appalling that anyone would do such a thing to another person, much less someone who was just trying to do their job. The alleged killer’s reason for killing her is because “she looked like a rich broker,” and “she worked alone.” My hope is that her death will not go in vain. Real estate agents and consumers: it’s time we change our ways!
Real estate professionals: we far too often jump at the chance to show a home before knowing anything about the person we’re meeting. Many times we don’t think about where the home is, if it’s vacant, or whether we know the person who wants to see it. We receive a call from an unknown person and show the home. Good work ethic is certainly admirable. However, having good work ethic at the expense of safety could potentially cost you your life. No sale is worth your life!
Here are a few safety tips for my real estate colleagues. We should ALWAYS let someone we know and trust know which homes we are showing. Also, each individual office should have a distress word or code that can be used in the event of a potentially dangerous situation. We should never park where we can be blocked in while showing a home. When entering a home, or walking up stairs, we should walk behind our clients rather than in front of them. Lock the doors after you enter a home to prevent anyone else from coming in behind you. Of course, we can also take more drastic measures like having concealed weapons permits, carrying pepper spray, stun guns etc. However, please be aware that if you have them they could be used against you, so be cautious if you go this route. Most importantly, go with your gut. If you feel uncomfortable about anything, don’t show the home. If (God Forbid) you are ever in a situation where someone tries to kidnap you, do not get in the car UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES.
The public needs to understand that Beverly Carter’s death is not the first case we’ve heard regarding violence against a real estate professional. In the last year there was a sexual assault on a female real estate agent in Salisbury, NC. The criminal had all intentions of killing her, but that was thwarted when she called her office and gave the distress word. Thankfully, someone arrived from her office and saved the day. Recently, in our office there was a person calling who said he was looking for a female agent. He said his “wife was very particular about who she worked with.” He said she expects them to be dressed in “proper attire,” which included a “short skirt and a garter belt.” Needless to say, our office was proactive in making sure that none of our agents worked with this person. There are certainly countless other instances similar to these. It’s unfortunate, but there are some real psychos out there, and it’s time consumers and real estate professionals understand that safety is a major concern in this day and age.
Consumers: please understand that an agent should not just jump at the opportunity to show a home when we don’t know you. Protocol needs to consist of an initial meeting at the agent’s office or at a public location to discuss the client’s needs and finance options. At that point, the agent should make a copy of the potential client’s license for their records and send it in to someone at their office. This policy should not be offensive to anyone. It should just be protocol to protect everyone involved and also to do our job. The unfortunate reality is that many consumers do get offended by this practice and call another agent. Hopefully this unfortunate event will bring more public awareness and understanding for real estate professional’s safety.
It is my hope that significant changes come from this tragedy. We as real estate professionals (male and female) need to understand that we are easy targets.