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Winter Park / Maitland Observer Wednesday, Oct. 8, 2014 7 years ago

Christina Rordam: Practice safe selling

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While these occurrences are rare, Beverly's death is a reminder to all selling, buying or practicing real estate to be on your guard and stay safe at all costs.
by: Christina Rordam

When asked why he targeted and kidnapped Arkansas Realtor Beverly Carter, suspect Arron Lewis offered this as his excuse. “She was just a woman that worked alone, a rich broker.” Beverly was married for 34 years, had kids and grandkids, and was an experienced Realtor. She was abducted by 33-year-old Lewis, and her body was found in a shallow grave at a concrete company near Little Rock last week. She was 49 years old, had a new grandchild on the way, and by all accounts was well loved and an active member of her community. While these occurrences are rare, Beverly’s death is a reminder to all selling, buying or practicing real estate to be on your guard and stay safe at all costs. No sale is worth your life. Below are a few tips to stay safe when completing your next real estate transaction.

Require proof of the ability to purchase your home, and that the agent or buyer is who they say they are.

This one goes both ways. Both agents and buyers are well within reason to ask for identification and pre-approval letters or a proof-of-funds letter before meeting with a buyer, or letting a buyer into a home. Just this weekend I was asked to by a prospective buyer to meet them at a series of bank-owned vacant homes. I asked that they send over their identification and proof-of-funds statement to which they replied, “Oh, we have plenty of money, trust me.” Sorry, not good enough. Not good enough for me, or for the owners of the homes they wanted to see. If a buyer is too busy to provide a copy of their license and proof of their ability to purchase the homes they wish to view, as agents we need to stand firm and respectfully explain why we require these things.

The main reason I ask for proof of funds or a pre approval is plain; no seller is taking their home off the market without the benefit of knowing the potential buyer is qualified. So it’s mainly to facilitate the ability to transition into a contract status once we find a home they like. My own safety is definitely also a factor. So is making sure I’m not allowing random non-buyers into other people’s homes.

Again, any serious and real buyer will not have an issue with this. I explained this to my new client and they happily obliged. Problem solved. After all, you can’t even test drive a car without having your license copied. Why should a purchase many times greater command less respect? Short answer: it shouldn’t. Every Realtor I know pre qualifies their buyers prior to showing them homes, and the benefit to sellers is increased safety.

Go with your gut.

This age old adage still holds true. It doesn’t matter the reason, if you feel uncomfortable opening your home to someone, don’t. It’s your home and, agents, it’s your life, so if you feel that something is off, set things up for a time when another person can be home, or for agents, reschedule for another time when a fellow broker can accompany you. You can always simply cancel the showing. Better to be safe than sorry. It’s a healthy real estate market out there right now for buyers and sellers, and if you don’t feel safe allowing a potential buyer into your home another one will be along soon enough so no reason to fret.

Protect yourself.

For agents this may mean that you carry pepper spray or even get licensed to carry a concealed weapon; it is up to your personal preference and important that you stay within the guidelines of the law. For homeowners, camera-assisted alarm systems can be a great asset as you may be able to view your home in real time, or at least have a record of who was doing what when. Alert neighbors, if you can, that there will be showings at the times you have scheduled, and just generally let people know where you will be while home shopping, showing a home or meeting a potential purchaser. Awareness is key so communicate with the people close to you when showings or meetings of these types are going to take place. You can even ask that they call you to check in and verify all is well.

Most buyers and agents are who they say they are, and have nothing but the best intentions. Buying and selling a home is an exciting and generally very safe life event. We must however remain vigilant and exercise common sense.

To make a donation to the Carter Family, please send checks made payable to the Beverly Carter Memorial fund to:

The Beverly Carter Memorial Fund

C/O Centennial Bank

4514 Camp Robinson Rd

North Little Rock, AR 72118

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