A week ago, authorities found the body of Arkansas real estate agent Beverly Carter, days after she vanished while showing a house to a prospective customer. Aaron Lewis, 33, has been apprehended and admitted to the kidnapping after being questioned by police.
This is not the first time an agent has been murdered, raped or assaulted while on the job. According to the latest Bureau of Labor study, the real estate industry experiences about a 40% higher rate of on-the-job crime than the average profession.
There must be a better way. I think the time has come for a change. What can be done? Here are some ideas that have been tossed around.
1. Classes on proper screening of prospects should be provided to all agents by the local real estate board.
2. It should be standard operating procedure that a prospect provide proof of funds prior to a showing.
3. Require prospects to pre-qualify with your preferred lender prior to showing them properties. This will not only prevent you from wasting time, but more importantly help keep you safe.
4. Maybe we should push the legislature for a special exemption under the law to carry mace, a taser or even a handgun.
5. Some kind of panic button.
6. Maybe a policy that showings or open houses are to be done only if 2 agents are present
What is the National Association of Realtors and local chapters doing about this issue?
Regrettably, the NAR issued a rather weak statement on the Beverly Carter tragedy:
“As both a REALTOR® and an Arkansan, I am saddened by this morning’s news of Beverly Carter’s untimely death. My heart goes out to her family, her friends, her co-workers, and everyone whose life Beverly touched in her 49 years with us.
Working in real estate involves risk and, unfortunately, that risk takes many forms. As an industry, we collectively work very hard to promote safety awareness among our members. We are fully committed to educating REALTORS® about potential threats and providing them with resources to protect themselves.
I urge all REALTORS® to honor Beverly Carter by keeping safe and looking out for each other.”
“Keeping safe and looking out for each other” frankly isn’t going to cut the mustard in my humble opinion. The NAR should be at the forefront of this issue, and doing a lot more than telling agents to “keep safe.” That doesn’t help anyone.
How about paying for some of the personal safety devices for agents as part of the membership dues? How about lobbying Congress and state legislatures for exemptions for personal defense weapons like mace, tasers and firearms? How about lobby for increased criminal penalties for crimes against Realtors? Anything but telling agents to “keep safe”….
There has to be a better way.
The time has come to create a safer work environment for Realtors. Lets not let the loss of Beverly Carter be in vain. Please share any additional suggestions that you may have on this issue