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We are all Beverly Carter — safety in the world of real estate agents and brokers

Beverly CarterWe are all Beverly Carter. Not one of us has not received a call to meet a prospective buyer at a home “right now,” or had someone make instant demands of our time in the name of providing service to them because they want and expect it. When Beverly Carter went missing last Thursday night, September 25, after meeting just that kind of buyer at a vacant, bank-owned home in Scott, Arkansas, my stomach sank. We simply don’t go missing from the job unless it’s bad news. This buyer <as it has been reported> spoke to her of paying cash for the house. Beverly called her husband and told him what she was doing, and she even gave her husband the address of the home where she was meeting her new, prospective client. Upon arriving, Beverly left her purse in her car and entered the property. When she didn’t contact her husband after a few hours, he drove to the address himself to find Beverly’s car and purse outside, the front door to the house open and no sign of Beverly.

Astute neighbors were paying attention and said to the Sheriff’s office that a “tall, skinny white man” met her, and the description of a truck was offered. Through a course of events over the weekend that sound convoluted but real, including bizarre texts to Beverly’s husband from her phone, a suspect in her kidnapping was named and then later arrested and charged on Monday, September 29. After a 12-hour interrogation, he admitted to the kidnapping but nothing more. Then, Beverly’s body was found in a shallow grave located at a concrete business just after midnight into September 30 — a business where the suspect had previously worked for a  very short time. The suspect, Arron Lewis, has since been babbling about choosing her because she worked alone, and that she was a “rich broker,” and mentioning an accomplice Trevor, who Lewis says is stationed at a local air force base. The Sheriff’s office has discounted all of this talk and Lewis alone has now been charged with capital murder. He wanted to plead guilty “to get it all over with,” but his public defender talked him out of it.

We’ll never know what Arron Lewis said to Beverly, but we can surmise it’s pretty much as I laid it out, because I am sure the story she told her husband is what happened to her when Lewis called, and it makes sense if you’ve ever gotten the call that Beverly got.  It’s easy for us to show you vacant homes. All real estate professionals subscribe to electronic lockbox services and we have a network of showing instructions via our Multiple Listing Services. I can get you into a house in a very short amount of time if that were my goal. Taking it further, I am not a fan of the dissemination of listing information to third-party sites. I wouldn’t mind one bit if the syndication of our listing data was shut off to sites like Zillow, Trulia and the rest – if only for this one reason: our safety. It’s just my imagination, but if Arron Lewis found this home online and deducted that it was vacant from the photos, then contacted Beverly to meet him there via his entrapment story on the phone, her fate was sealed as soon as she agreed to meet him. To me, we CAN and should go backwards and shut down our data to these portals. Leave properties on the local MLS where they belong and where they get sold about 95% of the time. Shut off syndication. It won’t solve all of our problems, but it will solve many.

Everyone squawks about “the horse being out of the barn” on listing data and syndication. That’s ridiculous. It’s incredibly valuable, and we as listing brokers control this information and we as an industry need to take a look at what we do with it. Sending our listing information to every corner of the globe to reach new buyers, as it was all promised to us, simply isn’t a smart idea. The vast pool of out-of-area buyers everyone thought we’d meet just didn’t materialize. Most of our sales happen in our own communities via the MLS, with one listing agent and one buyer’s agent. For me personally, the calls I get about my listings after they’ve been seen on all the real estate websites are typically NOT from ready-to-go buyers who are legit or ready to meet with me in a public place and show their credentials. Some callers are downright strange — including strangers who feel they simply must work with the listing agent “to get a better deal,” via some commission share that they think is about to be offered to them. That doesn’t happen, buyers. Many a buyer has scoffed at me when I request their “proof of funds” before beginning a working relationship. Scoff away, this is our safety reality.

My point in today’s post is to let any potential new buyer or seller know that we as REALTORS face a dangerous world. You may not be dangerous, but we don’t know that. If you’re asked to prove your identity by providing a driver’s license that we’ll photocopy, show us bank statements to prove your readiness as a buyer, or if we need to vet you as a seller before coming to you home, don’t be offended. Be relieved that we have learned the lesson of Beverly Carter’s murder and the murder of real estate agents that occurred before hers.

As long as you, the public, have the ability to view our listings, which may or may not always be the case, respect our need to create rules and boundaries once you contact us. After we do our work to learn about you, then we can get to work for you. This is safety in the world of real estate agents and brokers. Because we are all Beverly Carter.

 

UPDATE: September 30, 2014: the property is disappearing fast online and the listing has been cancelled. However, this is the property in its virtual tour. Address: 14202 Old River Road, Scott, AR 72142. The asking price was $251,000. Until such time as this home is removed from this website, you can see the home clearly is large and clearly is vacant.

 

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1 Comment

  1. Kerry Garnett
    September 30, 2014

    Very well stated. We must all stand strong for staying safe.

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