Last week the real estate world was rocked by yet another incident of a real estate agent that had gone missing. Beverly Carter, of Arkansas, went missing after a meeting to show a house to a potential client. Beverly Carter had left the address of the property she was showing with her husband. After a few hours had gone by and no additional contact was received, Beverly's husband went to the home that she had been showing to find the door to the property left open and her vehicle still there but no one in the home. This week, news of Beverly Carter's body being found surfaced and her killer entered a plea for not guilty.
Suggestions for Agent Safety
What can a real estate agent do to protect themselves from this kind of situation? The real estate world has been rocked by this nightmare and has already begun to call for better business practices that keep us safe. Other agents continue to point out the dog-eat-dog nature of real estate and has asked that this be toned down a bit for the sake of safety of agents. But what can be done? Here are some suggestions that may help with agent safety.
10 Suggestions for Agent Safety:
1. Make sure to meet with your clients in a public setting before ever showing them a house.
2. Verify that the client really is in the market to buy (ask for preapproval or prequalification letters).
3. When meeting your client for the first time, take a picture of their ID with your cell phone. When showing a house to them, text the picture of the ID and the address(es) of the property to someone you trust.
4. Follow up showings with a phone call or text once done showing houses to the individual to verify you are safe and ok. If uncertain about the client or in a dangerous area (remote area), make sure to text before and after each location.
5. Have a code word or phrase that indicates you have an emergency and share it only with one or two individuals that know what it means.
6. If possible, take a colleage, spouse, friend, or someone you trust with you to your showings.
7. Use situational awareness to know what is happening around you. Pay attention to the exits, where the clients are, and what is going on around the house.
8. Carry your cell phone in your hand and know how to speed dial 9-1-1 on your phone.
9. Consider having a weapon on you. You can purchase cell phone cases that have stun-guns in them. Pepper spray is an option, as are firearms (depending on the state you live in). Each has their pros and cons so weigh them carefully and know how to use each one properly.
10. NEVER meet with a client you don't know (see #1 & 2), or a client that makes you nervous without someone else that you trust with you. NO commission is worth your life.