Wake Up Call to Real Estate Agents Everywhere. Please Protect Yourself!

Posted by: Nikki Buckelew

When I first heard the tragic news about the murder of Arkansas real estate agent Beverly Carson I felt a flood of emotion. First came disbelief. How could something like this happen to such a loved and appreciated person.

Beverly was clearly a seasoned agent, well-educated, and had a good support system in place - both professionally and personally.  Next came anger - a feeling I work diligently to resolve as quickly as it rears its ugly head. Surprisingly, I found my anger directed as much toward my industry as much as at the mad man who killed this lovely woman. And after having had some time to process the news, I found myself seeking solutions -- ways to keep this from happening to other real estate professionals who are out there serving the needs of others in their communities. 
Having felt such horrible sadness, I knew right away that I wanted to write a blog post about this. 

Knowing that there is nothing I can do to reverse the events of the past, here's what I came up with for now: Let's all do a better job of being mindful such that we protect ourselves, our colleagues, our team members, our clients, and our employees.

Does anyone else agree that it's absolutely insane that our industry has made it a normal practice for real estate agents to so casually meet - typically alone - with prospective home buyers?  

Seriously? Someone calls us out of the blue and we agree to meet with them - sight unseen - in a property that is most likely empty of other humans and often in a secluded location? Who would do anything that crazy? Yes, we would, and we do. And even if you no longer take such risks, I bet it's something you've probably done in the past. I know I have. 

Let's not let this tragic event pass without making some changes. It's a wake up call for all of us!

As an agent, it's up to YOU -- and only you -- to take care of yourself and work smart.  Having said that, it only makes sense for brokers and leaders also make an effort to educate, equip, end empower agents within your respective organizations to protect themselves. 

Beverly's death has (thankfully) encouraged numerous brokers to begin to strengthen their policies in this area. Organizations like the Arkansas Realtors Association - and I'm guessing hundreds of others - are scrambling to institute guidelines for their members. 

But guidelines aren't enough. Guidelines and policies are about reducing liability to the broker. What I am talking about is hard-core, full on, dialed up personal training on the do's and do not's of real estate practices. 

A couple of years ago, I attended a class hosted by a local builder in Austin. They brought in a self-defense and martial arts teacher to show agents how to deal with a potential perpetrator in a variety of situations. It was AWESOME! I learned how to take out a guys knee rendering him virtually incapacitated, ways to escape a tight hold, and strategies for avoiding such situations to begin with. Oh -- and I could break your nose with the palm of my hand in the blink of an eye. Guess how many people were at the class. Go ahead, guess. Six of us -- yes, 6 women (I was the young one of the group too, I might add). As I observed these women, I realized that each of them was vulnerable to falling victim, and I was too. 

Of course none of us want to lose business or appear to be unwilling to work with prospective clients. I get it. But frankly, you owe it to yourself and your family to create some standards, policies, and systems around your showing practices. I encourage -- no, I BEG YOU -- create a written policy, similar to the one below, that explains your policies to prospective customers and WHY you do it the way you do. If they cannot or do not respect the way you choose to operate then they are not likely a good match for your services. Period. End of story. 

And while brokers ultimately cannot dictate how agents operate their individual businesses, they can help by instituting systems and creating strategies that make it easier for their agents to protect themselves. 

Here is a very basic "Action Plan Worksheet" from the National Association of Realtors.

And the NAR's page on "Realtor Safety Strategy."

More excellent tips from NAR on agent safety

A good page specific to real estate agent security from personal security expert Robert Siciliano

6 Safety Apps Every Real Estate Agent Can Use

If you have additional tips, ideas, or suggestions on the handling of agent safety, please share in the COMMENTS section below. 



Nikki Buckelew is the Founder and CEO of the Seniors Real Estate Institute and administrator for the Certified Senior Housing Professional® (CSHP) designation. A veteran REALTOR® of over two decades, she holds a bachelor’s degree in gerontology and a master’s degree in counseling psychology. As a professional speaker, coach, and trainer, Nikki is committed to empowering, equipping, and educating real estate sales and senior housing professionals seeking to better serve the mature market segment. 

Gayle Marretta commented on 12-Oct-2014 09:49 PM
Now that I am going to be getting back into Real Estate and showing more houses I knew I needed to develop a plan of safety. This blog had great advice and tips to, not only keep me safe but also, help me feel confident in establishing my own rules. It would be nice to trust everyone but in reality it just isn’t possible. Thank you Nikki for giving us the tools and tips to keep us safe; and the encouragement to set rules and say no if someone doesn’t want to follow them. That one more commission isn’t worth our life.
Nikki Buckelew commented on 13-Oct-2014 12:05 PM
Yes, Gayle! It is your life and your business so you get to make the rules! While in sales, we must always be aware of what our customers need and want and do our best to help them get it, it's not to be done at our own expense. All healthy relationships, sales or otherwise, are based on mutual value, respect, and appreciation. If they are one sided they never work. Thank you for your comments and welcome back to the game of real estate!!!! Much success to you and let us know how we can contribute to your journey.

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