What other industry requires unaccompanied female (and male) agents to meet perfect strangers in empty houses? None. One would think this is a recipe for disaster. It is.
Last night, 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, ABC News said.
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. Indeed, one my close Mass. Realtor friends was accosted several months ago and was very shook up about it.
My mother was a long time Realtor. My father recalls how nervous he was that some stalker would do something terrible at an open house or showing. Thankfully that never happened.
There must be a better way. I think the time has come for a change. What can be done?
Should open houses be outlawed? Should open houses be allowed only if there are two agents present? Most Realtors say they are a waste of time anyways. Should Realtors have a special exemption under the law to carry mace, a taser or even a handgun? What about a new lockbox system so prospective home buyers can peek into a home themselves without an agent present? What about some type of panic button device or other technology? Here is a great article on Using Technology for Realtor Safety.
What is your office doing to protect your personal safety? 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”….
For its part, the Massachusetts Association of Realtors has issued its own Realtor Safety Tips.
There has to be a better way.
As always, I’m here to support real estate agents anyway I can.