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.
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.
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.
- Agents Armor app
- Five personal safety apps that watch your back
- More apps to aid in safety discussed here
- GPS jewelry for safety?
- See comments below for additional tips