This article’s title may be a bit flippant, but my message is quite serious! Please read on…
In September 2014, Beverly Carter, an Arkansas realtor was kidnapped and murdered by a couple posing as home buyers. Her kidnapers claimed they targeted Ms. Carter because she was successful (read “wealthy”) and because they thought she’d be an easy target as she worked alone. Her killer was ultimately convicted of capital murder and faces life in prison without parole.
This is not the first time I’ve written about steps Realtors should take to protect themselves. (Important Safety Message For All Real Estate Agents/ ) However, this case does take on a new and unfortunate twist.
Last month Ms. Carter’s family filed a civil suit against her real estate company, claiming they should be held responsible for their negligence in this tragedy. The suit claims Crye-Leike Inc. was well aware of the life threatening dangers agents face, and had a duty “to provide Ms. Carter with the necessary information, awareness, consulting, tools, training, support, guidance, and technology to keep her safe, especially for use while meeting with prospective buyers for home visits.”
The outcome of this case will set the future tone for agents showing homes throughout the country. Most real estate companies do have policies and procedures in place. But do they go far enough?
Does your real estate company require you verify the buyer’s ID before taking them to look at homes? Are you required to meet buyers in your office before you show them homes? Are these policies in writing? Does your company provide training on these policies and procedures? And are there consequences if you break these policies or don’t follow these procedures? God forbid something similar happens again, will your company be liable for the lawsuit that inevitably follows?
In addition to the policies and procedures mentioned above, every realtor agent and company should have a policy that mandates every potential buyer be rigorously pre-qualified by a trusted mortgage professional before they start viewing homes. This is no longer a situation of just best practice. This is now a safety issue.
If you’re a realtor and you are still giving out three cards, timidly accepting pre-approvals from “Big Box” loan officers you’ve never heard of, or are afraid to insist a buyer be pre-qualified or pre-approved by someone YOU TRUST, your actions are no longer simply bad practice.
You’re no longer simply putting your income and livelihood on the line.
You could be risking your life and safety!
At Mortgage Wealth Advisors, NOT ONE single Pre-Qualification or Pre-Approval
is issued unless and until we’ve completed our rigorous analysis and underwriting.
WE HAVE their photo ID’s. WE RUN their tri-merged credit reports.
WE’VE VERIFIED their income and assets.
And we’re not referring ANYONE to our real estate partners unless we’re confident.
Warren Goldberg is President of Mortgage Wealth Advisors, a Certified Mortgage Planning Specialist®, and a published author. His interviews include Blog-Talk Radio, Newsday, The Daily News, Anton Press, and the Long Island Herald. Since 1992, he’s been sharing his financial knowledge and wealth-building strategies, including how to properly use your mortgage as a financial tool. His clients regularly express their trust and appreciation by recommending friends and family call when in need of mortgage, real estate, and financial guidance.