Real Estate Consumers May Encounter New Safety Practices

By Gary Isom, Executive Director of the Arkansas Real Estate Commission 

In response to the recent tragedy regarding real estate agent Beverly Carter, much attention is being given to measures that can be taken to better prepare real estate agents to recognize, avoid and respond to threatening situations. It is important to note that safety awareness should not be limited to just those agents who are deemed to be the most vulnerable or who may be unable to protect themselves. There is no better example of this than the 2011 homicide of 28 year old Sergeant First Class Jason Jackson, a decorated soldier who had completed a tour in Iraq. Jackson, a Little Rock real estate agent, was found shot to death at a house that was on the real estate market. A fellow real estate agent discovered Jackson’s body.

The Real Estate Commission’s primary charge is to protect consumers who utilize the brokerage services of those licensed by this agency. However, we do take an interest in making sure that those persons who choose real estate as a career also have ample opportunity to avail themselves of safety education.

In keeping with our mission of protecting the public, we strongly encourage real estate consumers to be receptive to practices that may be implemented by real estate practitioners to ensure personal safety. Some of these practices may include the agent requesting identification or information from consumers before showing a property or using the “buddy system” to show vacant properties to consumers. While the focus of safety may be on protecting the real estate agent in light of recent events, consumers also stand to benefit from these practices. Potential buyers could stand to benefit by having their itinerary on file with the agent’s firm with which they are working, as danger can exist at vacant properties for consumers as well as real estate agents. Sellers also benefit when the agents representing them take safety precautions when showing their properties.

While the Real Estate Commission has long allowed safety as a component of mandatory continuing education, moving forward, safety will be specifically listed as a topic that can be offered in courses approved for annual continuing education. For calendar year 2015, safety education will be offered as continuing education. Safety will also be available as a topic covered by education that new licensees complete in their first year of licensure.

As a regulatory agency, we are working with the Arkansas Realtors Association to ensure the availability of publications addressing safety in the real estate marketplace for agents and consumers alike.

While tragedies can bring everyone’s attention to issues such as personal safety, our intent is to ensure that awareness of this issue becomes a permanent and key component of the practice of real estate in Arkansas.

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