Leadership

Arkansas Realtor’s Murder Is “Big Reality Check” for Real Estate Associations

In the days after the kidnapping and murder of agent Beverly Carter, Realtors associations are reflecting on the loss of a beloved star performer and talking about what they can do to prevent more tragedies in the future.

By all accounts, the real estate field just lost a beloved figure in a terrible tragedy. Realtors associations, however, promise to learn from dangers the incident exposed.

Last Thursday, Arkansas Realtor Beverly Carter went missing after showing a property to a prospective buyer in a rural town. Carter had two other showings after the meeting in the town of Scott. She missed both.

On Tuesday, her family, friends, and colleagues learned the terrible truth: Carter had been killed, and the main suspect in her murder was the person she’d met at the property last Thursday. The man who admitted to kidnapping Carter, Aaron Lewis, told reporters that he targeted her “because she was just a woman that worked alone—a rich broker.” (Lewis, however, has not admitted to killing Carter and pleaded not guilty to the charge.)

“We Carry With Us Her Memory”

Real estate professionals were left in shock and mourning after learning of Carter’s death. The people close to her noted that much was going well in Carter’s life at the time of her death—including her career, which she’d started a decade ago. She was one of the best performers at broker Crye-Leike’s North Little Rock location.

“We have a very empty feeling in our hearts,” Susan Vaught, who works out of the same office that Carter did, told Realtor Magazine. “We carry with us her memory, her love, everything she was to us.”

The incident has raised serious questions about the safety of real estate professionals, who often work alone and make their contact information publicly available.

Vaught said that Carter and other brokers in the firm used safe business practices. “Safety is the No. 1 thing in our office, and we are always looking out for each other,” she told the publication.

Promising Stronger Safety

In the wake of the incident, both the Arkansas Realtors Association (ARA) and the National Association of Realtors (NAR) promised that they would focus on improving safety for agents.

Incoming NAR President Chris Polychron, who works in Arkansas, pledged to increase the association’s safety efforts when he takes office next month, including looking at the possibility of making safety training mandatory—though he admitted that it would require action at the state level, along with a board vote.

“My heart goes out to her family, friends, her coworkers,” Polychron told The Washington Post. “The sad part is that when you work in real estate, it does involve risk. But as an industry we have got to promote better safety awareness.”

ARA, meanwhile, called Carter’s murder as a “big reality check.” In comments to local media outlets, officials for the association said they would look into implementing a statewide safety plan in her memory.

ARA CEO Miki Bass suggested that real estate clients may need to accept some changes in the way agents have typically done business. For example, agents may move away from the practice of meeting strangers at properties for sale.

“You need to meet your Realtor in their office. Give them a copy of your driver’s license before going out with your Realtor. That way it’s safety for them [and] safety for you. It’s just a good business practice we need to all start,” she told Arkansas Matters.

Real estate agents are mourning the loss of Arkansas Realtor Beverly Carter this week. (Handout photo)

Ernie Smith

By Ernie Smith

Ernie Smith is the social media journalist for Associations Now, a former newspaper guy, and a man who is dangerous when armed with a good pun. MORE

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