Is murder of Beverly Carter a lesson for real estate agents? I hope so

Home Builder with Conifer Homes

Is murder of Beverly Carter a lesson for real estate agents? I hope so

This is a "tough love" post. If you are overly sensitive, please move on. =)

This morning, the inevitable became news: The body of Beverly Carter, kidnapped real estate agent, was found in a shallow grave.

Within seconds, social media blew up. Again.

Many thoughts and prayers, and much sadness, filled Facebook and other social media and news outlets. Within moments, the conversation turned back to where it was soon after Beverly's disappearance was initially reported: agent safety.

"Why was she showing a home to a stranger by herself?" This business is getting "more scary every day."

And, of course, "Why did he do it?"

Because she was a "rich broker," said admitted kidnapper and alleged murderer Arron Lewis, 33.

Glock for real estate agent protection?Putting aside the fact that 80 percent of real estate agents straddle the poverty line like it's a yoga pose, this incident has struck a resounding chord among agents and brokers across the nation and, presumably, the world.

I read a lot of comments and "ideas" about this situation, about "sleepless nights" and anxiety over showing homes to strangers, and about getting "Glocked up" before re-entering the treacherous real estate war zone that now exists in the newly minted paranoia of many real estate agents.

Soon there was a consistent theme in the stream: my broker needs to make me safer, the National Association of REALTORS® needs to legislate my safety, somebody else needs to make more rules so I can be perfectly safe at all times no matter what I do or how I do it.

While I do feel terribly sad for Beverly and her family and friends, she made a choice. She took precautions (sent text of showing location to her husband). She did what she felt compelled to do, and it cost her the ultimate price.

Unfortunately, her choice is a reality agents face every day. In our world, those who jump up and show homes to strangers are called "pop-tart" agents. Most of us don't like it, even more will speak out against it.

Yet many of us have done it.

Sadly, the outcry for "reforms" and "regulations" will die down within a few days, and nothing will change. Why not? Because nothing can change. Why? Because real estate agents are contractors, sole proprietors, lone rangers.

Stranger danger:
not just for kids anymore

While many brokerages, especially the larger "brand affiliate" ones, have agent conduct policies in place, these in essence are guidelines that are almost impossible to enforce. You see, contractors are not employees. So policy manuals are written mostly for show ... for the illusion of order and corporate hierarchy, and in large part to satisfy the C.Y.A. police.

Many agents smoke, and many agents drink. Lung and liver cancers are more likely to kill an agent than a stranger met at a listing. The point is, we must take reasonable precautions in our lives, no matter the situation. We are responsible for our own health and safety. A rule on a piece of paper in a manual might make your broker feel better, but it does absolutely nothing to actually make you comply or make you safer.

So, be careful out there. Be smart out there. Ideally, you will not show homes to strangers. If you do, take somebody else with you, and text your agenda and the stranger's contact information to your partner/spouse/broker.

Better yet, meet the person at the office. Don't live near your office? Try a coffee shop. Look at their ID and snap a quick photo of it. Do a reverse look-up (spokeo?) of the stranger's phone number.

How can I be safer? There's an app for that

A new app called Nosey Poo is in beta testing as of 9/30/14. This app allows you to check a phone number to see the owner's name. It's supposed to work on mobile numbers as well as land lines. You can text 512-808-0600 for information on how to set it up.

Instead of outward outrage, it's time to look within and realize that nothing can ensure our safety like our own common sense.

#agentsafety #realtorsafety #beverlycarter

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Show All Comments
Jason Crouch
Austin Texas Homes, LLC - Austin, TX
Broker - Austin Texas Real Estate (512-796-7653)

Nicely done, Aaron. Your broker is probably proud of you, too.  ;)

Oct 01, 2014 06:06 AM #109
Erica Ramus
Erica Ramus - Ramus Realty Group - Pottsville, PA - Pottsville, PA
MRE, Schuylkill County PA Real Estate

Good job. Tuesday I had agents asking me to instate an offie policy to keep them safe. 

1. Meet people at office first (oh no, not practical)

2. Prequalify people first (we try to ...)

3. Get their driver's license and car plate first (really?)

As the broker I can list all the policies you want, agents still meet people at vacant houses, with or without prequalifying them or meeting them first at the officee. Just try and change that. 

Oh and the photo looks  like a S&W 9 mil. That's what I carry.

Oct 01, 2014 08:32 AM #110
Pat & Wayne Harriman
Harriman Real Estate, LLC (203) 672-4499 - Wallingford, CT
Broker/Owners, Wallingford CT Real Estate

Exactly what Erica Ramus said. All we can do, at this point in time, is suggest to them what they should do. Changing a whole industry, or even a whole office, is akin to herding cats.

Oh, and it's pretty badass that she carries a S&W 9mil too. I carried one in my military days every single day. Maybe should get back in the habit.

Oct 01, 2014 08:44 AM #111
Chris Lima
Atlantic Shores Realty Expertise - Port St Lucie, FL
Local or Global-Allow me to open doors for you.

Great post! This is a very disturbing story and while I tend to be more cynical than most, this situation could happen to any one of us. Fortunately this event isn't the norm. We all show more property than we can count. I think the internet provides a sense of "we know" our customers because we have been chatting online for months, in some cases it is a false sense of security. That being said all of the precautions in the world will not  keep us safe out there if someone truly wants to cause us harm. Anyone knows that an ID can be printed on home computers, so taking a photo does nothing except giving the detective a useless lead.  Let us follow our instincts and try to be a bit more street smart. Stay SAFE!

Oct 01, 2014 08:49 AM #112
Erica Ramus
Erica Ramus - Ramus Realty Group - Pottsville, PA - Pottsville, PA
MRE, Schuylkill County PA Real Estate

I am trained and an excellent shot. You shouldn't carry unless licensed and have taken safety/training courses, in my opinion. 


Oct 01, 2014 09:04 AM #113
Lana Robbins Realtor ® Licensed Real Estate Broker
Aloha Kai Real Estate - Clearwater, FL
Licensed in Florida and Washington


I have studied a martial art for 15 years. Nothing will stop a knife... except a gun. I have been trained by law enforcement officers and retired LEOs who taught me how to shoot. I can be seen regularly at the local gun range.

I have a Florida Concealed Weapons permit and a Utah Concealed Firearms permit due to concealed carry reprocity. I am well trained and like Erica am an excellent shot. I'm comfortable with my guns as I am with yoga and organic gardening.

It's not about being "scared". It's about being prepared and refusing to be a victim.

Oct 01, 2014 10:44 AM #114
Marie Graham
Owner, The Refreshed Home White Plains NY - White Plains, NY
Westchester County Interior Decorator, Home Stager

A recent Womens' Council of Realtors presentation cautioned many people are found/targeted from their online footprint: how they word their listings ('...set on 2 secluded acres'..), their profile and pics. I can't find it anywhere on this page, but I'm hoping this is a members-only post.

Oct 01, 2014 11:24 AM #115
Athina Boukas
Virginia Capital Realty - Richmond, VA
Certified Residential Specialist (CRS)

This is sad, but we need to trust our gut and not let our guard down. Once you are alone with a stranger you are taking a risk, male or female, armed or unarmed.  Just don't do it!  A bona fide buyer will be willing to meet at the office and you should know who they really are.  We are lone rangers, and must go by our own set of safety rules.

Oct 01, 2014 03:25 PM #116
Barbara Calwhite
Keller Williams Realty of Southwest Missouri - Joplin, MO
417-438-7387 Specializing in Relocation

Great post.  We set up a group at our office to review our safety procedures.  First we had to FIND them, dust them off and then read them.

We have sent out an email requesting suggestions from all so we can compile a 'safety manual' for all as a guideline.  We will also be having a self defense training class within the next two weeks.  

I have written down a number of ideas from this post including the comments.  What a great resource we have available to us here at the 'Rain'!!  I also love all the app suggestions!!

Oct 01, 2014 07:35 PM #117
Scott Leaf Personal Real Estate Corporation
Keller Williams Elite Realty, Port Coquitlam, BC - Port Coquitlam, BC
Scott Leaf & Associates Real Estate Team

Terrible tragedy, but please put this in perspective.  There are 100's of thousands of Realtors.  More 7-11 clerks get shot and killed, more teachers have been killed, etc.  BE SAFE but dont live your life in fear. 

Oct 02, 2014 01:46 AM #118
Chris and Berna Sloan
Group 1 Real Estate - Tooele, UT
Tooele UT

Great post. Not sure why this one has resonated with us, rather than the other similar ones before it, but it doesn't matter. At the end of the day, it's on us. "Situational awareness" was used above, and I use it often with my own agents (including my wife) as well as members of our Association. It's no one elses job to take care of us. Thanks for posting this amazingly well thought out post!

Oct 02, 2014 06:04 AM #119
Susan McLaughlin
Keller Williams Realty - East Monmouth - Red Bank, NJ
Monmouth County Real Estate

I worry about the increasing number of female agents who are putting sexy-ish photos on their ads and signs.  Some of the photos I see lately look like they are coming from dating sites.  I think it's dangerous to have a woman's photo on a sign saying  "I'll be here  (in this big vacant property) for an Open House Sunday 1-4pm."

Oct 02, 2014 03:00 PM #120
Laura Cerrano
Feng Shui Manhattan Long Island - Locust Valley, NY
Certified Feng Shui Expert, Speaker & Researcher

I've never heard of pop tarts used that way I don't think.

Oct 02, 2014 04:42 PM #121
Karen Feltman
Cedar Rapids/Iowa City, IA KW Legacy Group - Cedar Rapids, IA
Relocation Specialist in Cedar Rapids, Iowa

I agree with everything that you are saying.  It has never been safe to just go out and meet strangers, whether it is a vacant or lived in home.  I have consistently asked potential buyers to meet me at the office.  Sellers are little more difficult as you typically need to meet them to see their home on the initial appointment.  In most cases, I am dealing with relocation clients and I am not concerned for my safety....but maybe I should be.  Thank you for the app suggestions.  :)

Oct 06, 2014 01:20 PM #122
Gene Riemenschneider
Home Point Real Estate - Brentwood, CA
Turning Houses into Homes

There are all steps we can take to be safer.  However, we can never be perfectly safe.  Not as agents or in any other proffession or time in our life.

Oct 09, 2014 07:30 AM #123
Nina Hollander
Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage - Charlotte, NC
Your Charlotte/Ballantyne/Waxhaw/Fort Mill Realtor

There's only so much your broker can do for us. Then it's really up to us to use common sense regarding personal safety. Great app suggestion.

Oct 23, 2014 04:25 AM #124
Jeff Pearl
RE/MAX Distinctive / LIC in VA - Lovettsville, VA
Full Service Full Time Realtor

I think each agent needs to decide for themselves what self defense tactics they are comfortable using, and know when to make the decision not to show a listing if something doesn't feel right. Agents can't rely on brokers, NAR, apps, etc to keep them safe. They must rely on the way they conduct business to reduce the chances of being attacked. If that means meeting at office or public place first, or not showing vacant homes at night with no power, then that should become a part of their business model. Good posT!

Oct 23, 2014 05:35 AM #125
Winston Heverly
Winston Realty, Inc. - Atlantis, FL

It is a bit of a treat going back and reading some of Active Rains best archives  like this one. Should be shared again.

Mar 28, 2015 12:06 PM #126
TeamCHI - Complete Home Inspections, Inc.
Complete Home Inspections, Inc. - Brentwood, TN
Home Inspectons - Nashville, TN area - 615.661.029

 Wow! This post sure drew a lot of attention. You make some very valid points though.

Apr 12, 2015 06:40 PM #127
Inna Ivchenko
Barcode Properties - Encino, CA
Realtor® • Green • GRI • HAFA • PSC Calabasas CA

Ladies especially, learn to hit groin and/or Adam's apple....scream as you do so. If State allows, OC/pepper spray (learn how 2 use it effectively). NEVER turn your back on a client. If you can not sign for a special self defense classes, watch some utube videos, learn self defense tactics and vital points of our body.

Jun 04, 2015 03:31 PM #128
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Aaron Vaughn | Builder | Investor

If the deal makes sense, the cash will follow.
I buy houses and building lots for cash!
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