It’s been almost 2 years since the tragic disappearance and murder of Arkansas Realtor® Beverly Carter. The Arkansas Realtors® Association along with the National Association of Realtors® has been working diligently to produce and promote safety and awareness in the real estate industry and it is our hope that something like this heart-breaking act never happens to anyone else. We have been producing and distributing resources for real estate agents but I wanted to re-share an article that we published that will help consumers know what to expect when they work with a Realtor®.

On behalf of the Arkansas Realtors® Association, we would like to extend our deepest sympathy and condolences to Beverly Carter’s family. Words cannot express how truly sorry we are that this tragedy has happened. Though not every Realtor® in Arkansas may have known her, we all feel a deep connection with her as a part of our Realtor® family.

We feel an obligation to re-educate our members on best safety practices and plan to implement a statewide, if not nationwide, safety plan. It is our goal to make sure that all Realtors® have the information and means to keep themselves safe during showings, open houses and in their day-to-day business.

We also feel an obligation to educate consumers on what they should expect when working with a Realtor®. I recently spoke with Karen Crowson, Principal Broker of Crye-Leike Realtors® Benton, about the things that Realtors® will ask from consumers before a real estate transaction occurs. Karen helped put into prospective that Realtors® are here to help consumers, but they can no longer put themselves at risk like they have been.

We can’t stress enough how important first meetings at the agent’s office are to not only the agent but also to the prospective client. "Realtors® are not just people who open the door to a house. The knowledge and information we bring to each transaction is a true benefit" said Crowson. First meetings at the office are beneficial to the consumers because their Realtor® will talk with them to find out exactly what they want, explain the process of buying or selling a home and can let them know that they should expect with the whole process; which makes for a more successful transaction in the long run. First meetings at the office are beneficial to the Realtor® because it allows them to get more information on their prospective buyers and reduce risk.

One thing that Karen, as well as many other Arkansas Realtors® have expressed over the last few days is that at the very least, Realtors® will ask for a prospective client’s driver’s license or photo id and keep a copy of that on file at their office. "This is a minimum level of protection for Realtors® and legitimate buyers shouldn’t hesitate to do it" said Crowson. "The days of calling a number on a sign and having somebody show up and meet you when you’re a perfect stranger are over, but consumers shouldn’t be offended. It’s just good, safe business practice" said Miki Bass, CEO of the Arkansas Realtors® Association. It is our hope that consumers understand where Realtors® are coming from and don’t think of being asked to provide identification as an inconvenience.

Some offices will request to take a picture of prospective buyers’ cars or license plates and send that to their office while others have a safety plan in place and ask clients to fill out an informational application that stays at their office.

"This was a game changer that I hope we all remember and remain a level above in regards to safety. It will help us decide how we do business in the future" said Crowson.

In short, we want consumers to be aware that Realtors® will be acting more cautiously in their business dealings now, and we hope that consumers can understand their reasoning. It’s not our goal to offend or inconvenience anyone; it is however our goal to ensure the safety of Realtors® and the consumers that they encounter.

House to House is distributed weekly by the Arkansas REALTORS® Association. For more information on homeownership in Arkansas, readers may visit www.ArkansasRealtors.com.