About two weeks ago an Arkansas Realtor, Beverly Carter, was kidnapped while showing a vacant property on a Thursday evening to a man she had not met before. Days later, her body was found in a shallow grave. You may have caught the story while watching the evening news or scrolling through your Facebook feed. For most folks I imagine this was like so many stories we hear everyday; a terrible tragedy but quickly forgotten. That hasn’t been the case for the real estate community. You see one of our peers was murdered while simply doing her job. The job we do every day. That has left us shaken to our very core.
I’m embarrassed to admit that while doing my job, I have met strangers at vacant properties too. I have casually left messages for my family that said, “…will be late tonight, out showing, see you later…” I’ve been out showing homes and not a soul has known where I was. I’ve felt uncomfortable more than once. In light of recent events. I feel like I owe a big fat apology to my friends and family. I’ve been lucky.
The loss of Beverly Carter has sparked much debate about Realtor Safety around water coolers and online. We are all admitting we have taken our personal safety for granted and resolving to make changes. I know Realtors who are taking self defense classes or are choosing to arm themselves with concealed weapons. Some agents will now require potential buyers meet them at the office first or are only showing homes with their husband in tow.
In an effort to ensure my safety I’m initiating a few policy changes of my own. I realize it’s not always practical to require we meet at my office or for me to drag the hubs around; your time is valuable and so is my husband’s. So, here’s my solution. If we haven’t met in person yet, I will request proof of identification from you prior to showing you a home. I’ll do this by using the web based service, Secure Show. Secure Show will verify that we are both who we say we are so we can get down to business and look at houses. Here’s how it will work;
- you call and ask to see a home
- I send you a link to complete the verification process using your cell phone
- the Secure Show server will verify your cell phone then ask you to scan your ID and send a selfie
- once verified (like 5 minutes) we both receive a picture of the other person and we can schedule a meeting