An Avoidable Pain
As much as my heart aches for the family of Arkansas Realtor Beverly Carter, my mind rages against an industry that puts our (brokers’) backs against the wall. The National Ass0ciation of Realtors (NAR) and its local boards have known about this risk to its members and all real estate agents for a very long time. But they are too worried about drumming up those membership fees to make any policies that might limit the number of agents by protecting their safety.
Here’s the problem:
Buyer Bob calls Rita Realtor and says, “I want to see the house at 456 Boondock Street.” Rita asks Bob if he has talked to a lender. Bob may say he has a cash buyer (which I’ve read was the case for Beverly Carter) or he might say he’s in the process, waiting to hear back, in a hurry so not yet, blah, blah, blah. Rita now has a tough choice to make. She can do what she SHOULD do and say, “Ok Bob, let’s wait to hear back from that lender,” or “Great, just send over a proof of funds from your bank.” Or, she could have done what she NEEDED to do to secure the client – show him the house with little to no vetting. But if Rita says no, Bob will call another Realtor who will likely say yes. You can see now how Beverly Carter was in a tough spot the minute she answered her murderer’s phone call. Why do Realtors take these risks? Here’s a clip from ABC News:
The real estate agent’s disappearance had rattled her colleagues, most of them women, who routinely agree to meet strangers at empty homes that are for sale. “They’re scared, and I need someone to give them some reassurance,” said Brenda Rhoads, the principal broker at the real estate company where Carter worked.
Rhoads, who was good friends with Carter and worked with her for nine years, told ABC News that she arranged for a police detective to come and speak to her colleagues at Crye Leike Real Estate Services Monday to try and calm their fears.
Some have said that Carter, a 50-year-old grandmother, should not have met the prospective buyer alone, but Rhoads dismissed those critiques, saying, “That’s our job.” http://abcnews.go.com/US/arkansas-realtor-beverly-carter-targeted-woman-worked/story?id=25860583
HER JOB? No, Ms. Rhoads, it absolutely is NOT her JOB to meet strange men (who know she’ll arrive alone) at empty houses and who no one is expecting to see for at least an hour. It’s NOT her JOB to put herself in harm’s way to make a buck. And it’s NOT her JOB to take unnecessary risks because some other Realtor is standing in line to make a bad choice if she makes the right one. I think, Ms. Rhoads, it’s time for YOU to find a new JOB. The fact that you brought in a police officer to encourage your other female Realtors to continue to put themselves at great risk boggles the mind. I hope they can see through your thinly veiled scheme and find a principal broker who cares more about people than money.
Will it take more than one woman’s heart-breaking death to change the rules? Should real estate agents not be REQUIRED to verify a buyer’s viability before taking them into someone’s home? What risk do sellers have when unverified “buyers” tour their home and attack an agent or steal their property? We’ll discuss how common this is in a later blog, but if you think for a minute that Beverly was the first female Realtor to suffer at the hands of a kidnapper, thief, sexual assailant or murderer, you’re wrong. It’s more common than you think, but until there is a level playing field and all agents are required to do their due diligence, it will continue to happen.
What Can be Done?
It’s time for NAR and local boards to put their bottom line behind the lives and safety of their members and REQUIRE a minimum level of due diligence before showing properties to buyers. This will protect our agent, sellers, and the future of our industry. I propose an adoption of minimum standards and stiff penalties for failure to adhere. If Beverly knew that the buyer would have had no luck with another agent if she stood her ground and required proof of funds or pre-approval, she’d still be with us today.
I apologize for an angry-toned blog, but every time I see Beverly Carter’s picture, I cannot be sorry for being passionate about this serious issue. She was a mother, wife, grandmother, co-worker, and friend. She endured a horrific death, and her loved ones will always grieve with that knowledge. And Realtors like Ms. Rhoads have no intention of preventing it from happening again. If you are a real estate agent, it’s open season.
God’s speed, Beverly. May you rest in peace.