As the son of a sweet lady who lost her life to a crime against a realtor, I’m often perplexed when people question me about the true need for safety programs within the industry. My mother’s kidnapping and murder was truly horrific, and subsequently received much press, but that shouldn’t dismiss the lessor known-about victimization of agents. “Statistically, it’s a safe industry, Carl,” I’ve been told repeatedly in the most condescending tones. Try telling that to the hundreds of victims that I’ve personally met. By all means, tell that to these sweet victims, many of whom partially blame themselves and have never told another person of their situation or pain. I’ve received so many hugs from agents with tear-filled eyes as they whisper their stories in my ear. I believe we all have a responsibility to raise awareness and build cultures of preparedness.
To acknowledge the ‘statistics’ argument, I understand completely that there are “only” about 20 real estate agents that lose their lives in the course of their work annually; however, I’m of the firm belief that even one life lost out of the hundreds of thousands of active real estate agents across the country is too many. The very nature of the business, lone-workers with ample training and tools to self & service-promote, can easily foster business practices of false pretenses and vulnerabilities.
Identifying yourself as a top-of-mind agent is the goal, right? Although I’m a new REALTOR®, I’ve already learned much about establishing my brand as highly-skilled and knowledgeable (although the truth of that is debatable), converting leads, and extending my marketing reach through internet ads and social media. However, if not for the loss of my mom, I’d be in a position of relying solely on my life’s experiences with safety as a means to keep myself and my clients safe. I’d be a new agent with big dreams of a successful career in the business coupled with the recent huge expense of breaking into the business. Enthusiasm partnered with a need to provide for a family would make it enticing to run when the phone rang or an email lead was received.
I feel a huge passion to help others. I don’t want any other families picking up the pieces in the aftermath of a crime. Sounds cliché, but I wouldn’t wish the hell our family has endured on my worst enemy. In the spirit of transparency, I’m catapulted forward in this mission to continue my mom’s legacy. I didn’t just love her the mostest, but I believed in her. She was my hero, and I think her best years were ahead of her. She didn’t get to live those, so I charge ahead in her name, and hopefully make a positive impact on the lives the Beverly Carter Foundation touches.
Since mom’s death, I’ve seen an incredible expansion in the agent safety training resources. 2015 National Association of REALTORS® President, Chris Polychron, declared Agent Safety as a cornerstone of his platform, and many resources were built during that time (and continue to be built!). Realtor.org/Safety is incredible, truly.
As I’ve traveled the country speaking to Agents, Brokers, Owners, Boards, Area executives, MLS executives, and Associations, there has been some consistent feedback:
- Online training resources are boring and/or hard to learn from.
- I’m so busy that it’s hard to make time to go to yet another website to read about safety.
- I know it’s important, but dang it, I just get complacent.
- I’m scared to implement processes that may be a barrier to my success as an agent.
- I’m not worried at all because I (carry a gun) (took a self-defense class) (am a man).
Having spent the majority of my career in corporate training & development, I understand the challenges with adult learning. Building training that is engaging, modular, and relevant is critical to the success of the Beverly Carter Foundation. Building a website with a ton of static content won’t help anyone.
I’m constantly asked by every level of the industry about technological tools for safety (“Hey Carl, level with me – which one is the best?”). While I’ve certainly seen a lot of cool features in the market, I’ve shied away from making any strong endorsements. This is largely due to the huge responsibility that I think is associated with such endorsements. I think the Foundation will play a great role in the future in providing an unbiased analysis of tools on the market, so the best products are highlighted.
To an earlier point, I can’t express the sorrow and helplessness associated with agents confiding in me about victimization (from crimes to close-calls). Other than a hug and a heart-felt apology (and the unspoken alliance we form as fellow victims), I’ve felt that I’ve let them down. I think there’s a major opportunity for the Beverly Carter Foundation to identify existing resources at each state that can be of assistance. What if during the course of an agent telling me the story of their trauma, I pull out a card with resources in their state? Lots of work to build? YES. Worth it? ABSOLUTELY.
Please consider joining us in this mission. We need your support! Visit us at https://beverlycarterfoundation.org/ or Email me at Carl@BeverlyCarterFoundation.org!