Bainbridge real estate agencies show safety is priority for agents

Published 9:48 pm Friday, October 3, 2014

Beverly Carter, 49, was a real estate agent found dead and buried in a shallow grave Tuesday just north of Little Rock, Arkansas.

The man charged with the murder confirmed the randomness of his crime when interviewed by reporters.

“She was just a woman that worked alone — a rich broker,” Aaron Lewis, 33, said.

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Though Carter was simply doing her job, the horrible incident is a wake up call for agents and real estate brokers across the country, Bainbridge included.

“It has been a problem for a long time,” Roy Simpson of Simpson ERA in Bainbridge said about maintaining the safety of agents. “We continuously have training classes through the Georgia Association of Realtors. They put out quite a bit of info on safety awareness. The biggest of that is having a keen eye and being familiar  your surroundings.”

Simpson also likes to use a “buddy” system when agents are less comfortable with showing property to a potential buyer. Other agents, and in certain situations the agent’s spouse, might accompany them to the showing.

Rollins Miller, broker and owner of Miller-Griffin Realty also makes use of the buddy system.

“(They bring) someone who is more capable to get out of certain situations,” Miller said.

Miller said out of the nine agents working at Miller-Griffin Realty, five are women. There have been situations when a female agent’s husband waited in the car during a showing, he added, but the majority of the time another agent would be there.

Both Simpson and Miller said they perform a background check or research a potential buyer’s history before setting up a meeting time. Personal safety items are often on an agent’s person as well.

“Pepper spray is the easiest,” Simpson said.

In extreme situations, Simpson said there was a code word his realtors can use. Agents can call Simpson, use the code and have help on the way in minutes.

“We’ve never had to use (the code),” Simpson said, “but that would be process, and we’ve talked to local authorities to get them on board.”

Though they are protective and useful, Simpson said the problem with using peppery spray or a code is something bad has already happened.

“We’re trying to plan something with a group out of Tallahassee to not get ourselves in those positions,” Miller said.

Simpson ERA has even explored having training courses on how to use a weapon.

“Every time something like this happens, you tend to be more focused,” Simpson said about the incident in Arkansas. “Right now it’s dangerous out there, so we try to be aware and keep our agents up to date on being cautious.”