Following last year’s murder of Arkansas real estate professional, Beverly Carter, interactions between realtors and consumers have dramatically changed. Unfortunately, Beverly is not the only agent who has been injured and killed while showing either residential or commercial property to a “prospective buyer”.
Most people who ask to be shown property are honest but for some, real estate has become a crime of opportunity. To ensure agents and brokers are safe on the job, many organizations have enhanced security measures, especially when showings involve new clients.
In the past several months, there are a growing number of real estate professionals who have hired experts in security to learn various techniques of self-defense. In addition, developers have created and launched a variety of special smartphone applications that make calling out for help easier. Two of the top applications include EmergenSee and SafeTREC but there are many others.
New Safety Guidelines
Along with these safety measures, new guidelines have been developed specifically related to consumer/realtor interactions. Real estate companies and independent realtors around the country have now adopted these guidelines, recognizing that they are potentially critical in saving lives. Some of the key guidelines now implemented include the following:
- For Sale Signs – A for sale posted in the front lawn of a property has always been standard business but for a criminal, this is nothing more than an invitation for trouble. The realtor’s name and phone number are clearly listed so when an agent receives a phone call to show that property, it never raises an alarm. This also provides the seller with better protection in that random people will not knock on the door to take a quick look at home or business being sold.
- Initial Consultation – Rather than meet at a residential or commercial property, agents should insist that all initial consultations take place at the real estate office or a public place like a restaurant
- Identification – Agents and brokers need to demand to see identification from all prospective buyers, regardless of the person’s age, race, or gender
- Preapproval – Some real estate companies are so concerned about increasing risks to agents they now require that buyers go through a preapproval process in securing the mortgage loan. With this, an individual meets with the lender, provides all pertinent documentation, and is actually approved for the loan. In addition to enhancing security, this provides the buyer with more negotiating power in reaching an acceptable sales price.
The goal with the new guidelines established for real estate professionals is to create and leave a paper trail. Typically, someone planning on committing a crime is not going to provide documented proof of their identity so if a potential buyer were to hesitate, this should be a red flag of caution.
Taking a few precautions guarantees that everything is on the up-and-up. A serious buyer will understand and be happy to oblige in meeting with a lender, providing identification, meeting in a public place, and so on.