Ashley Oakland, 27, was found shot twice dead in a townhome where she was hosting an open house in 2011. Beverly Carter, 49, went missing after showing a couple a home for sale in a rural area of her hometown, five days later she was found dead. In St. Petersburg, Florida, two women were attacked and trapped in homes by a potential buyer but managed to escape. With each passing traumatic incident that hits the real estate community, we find ourselves asking one another “why did this happen,” and “how can we prevent it from happening again?”
During REALTOR® safety month, it is only natural to think of those agents who were not able to safely return to their families, and were killed while on the job. While it may be easy for those outside of the profession to simply dismiss the cases due to negligence and say that they were not taking the necessary precautions, the very opposite is often true. In fact, many of the recent cases affecting the industry involved seasoned agents who had set safety precautions in place.
“ I haven’t said this before but mom was actually not their first target,” says Carl Carter Jr., the son of Beverly Carter during an interview with Inman news. “On top of her safety measures, she expressed to the husband as she was on the phone with him that she didn’t meet men in rural areas and would someone else be accompanying him? Mom was truly tricked and we have to think about that even when we are so comfortable and follow our standard procedures, we have to raise the bar.”
While many agents practicing real estate follow standard safety precautions, there is always room for improvement and room for error. A constant that has been suggested is for agents to meet all potential buyers at their office prior to looking at houses. This way, the first encounter is not alone with the potential buyer and the hassle of coming into the office will more than likely deter a potential criminal. Other suggested safety precautions include making copies of driver’s licenses of potential buyers, making office contacts aware of properties you are showing and checking in with them to establish safety points, bringing a buddy with you to showings/open houses and protecting yourself by determining appropriate marketing materials and social media.
Florida REALTORS® is dedicated to offering agents the resources and guidance they need to stay up to date on safety practices they can utilize in their business. During the Florida REALTORS® Celebration and Trade Expo, Florida REALTORS®’ Education Department hosted owner of the Safer Agent, Andy Tolbert as a featured speaker.
“According to Labor Bureau of Statistics in just 2013 alone there were a total of Tolbert specializes in realtor safety and preparing agents with tactical material that they can use to protect themselves on the job and prepare them to recognize behavior that could be a warning sign for an attack.
For more information on REALTOR® safety month activities nationwide, and utilizing resources available to you, visit http://www.realtor.org/topics/realtor-safety/safety-webinars.