To Pop-Tart or Not to Pop-Tart – the Follow-Up


posted by on Random (Un)Common Sense, Working with Buyers

I just realized I promised a to be continued on an earlier blog post and, well, never continued.

The blog in question was called “To Pop-Tart or Not to Pop-Tart” and was related to the disappearance of Beverly Carter, the Arkansas real estate agent who was later, sadly, found murdered, allegedly by a buyer she agreed to meet at a vacant property.

At the time (and since) I have publicly said that if I were still in real estate, I would probably still be willing to Pop-Tart. Here’s why:

Every day in our businesses and our personal lives, we take chances. Most of the time, either consciously or subconsciously, we weigh the potential risk of our activity against the potential gain and make our decisions accordingly. When we get in our car to drive to a listing appointment – not knowing if a drunk driver is heading the same way; when we walk into Walmart – not knowing if a psychopath is shopping there today; when we’re the first one to arrive at the office – not knowing if we might be interrupting a burglary in progress…

In my rescue work, I interact with shelter dogs I don’t know on a daily basis, not knowing if one of them might be so frightened or unstable as to take a bite out of my face.

Risk. Reward. We make those decisions every day.

Presumably, Ms. Carter made the decision on that fateful Thursday that doing her job (as she perceived it) was worth the statistically unlikely risk that she would be harmed. Real estate agents across the country do it every day and the vast majority of the time, nothing bad happens; in fact, very often something good happens!

So yes, even after the murder of Beverly Carter, I would still include Pop-Tarting in my business model, using Reasonable Caution.

Reasonable Caution? What might that look like?

Reasonable Caution Tip #1: Use common sense when scheduling appointments. Don’t show homes at night or, frankly, any time of day to anyone who gives you the creeps over the phone.

Reasonable Caution Tip #2: When talking with the potential buyer, casually mention you will be bringing your husband (for women) or partner with you. No need for explanation, just say it. Or, related to this Tip, casually mention the owner may be home for your showing.

Reasonable Caution Tip #3: Carry mace or another legal, easy-to-use self-defense product on your keychain. Ensure that the buyer sees it, but make sure you don’t set it down where they could grab it!

Reasonable Caution Tip #4: Don’t go into basements with strangers, or be the first one to enter a room. Always keep the exit available to you.

Reasonable Caution Tip #5: Make it your personal policy to take a picture of the buyer’s driver’s license and text it immediately to your office (or shoot, just to anywhere!). Tell the buyer ahead of time you will be doing this. Be sure to do this for ALL buyers so you won’t be accused of profiling.

And finally, Reasonable Caution Tip #6: Realize that 99.999% of the people you cross paths with as a real estate agent mean you no harm (other than your ego from time to time). Even if you gave them every opportunity to abduct you or otherwise hurt you, they wouldn’t dream of doing it. MOST PEOPLE ARE NOT MURDEROUS PSYCHOPATHS! Please don’t go out into the world thinking the worst of people; what you expect to see is what you WILL see.

I have a few more thoughts on this subject, but will save those for another day…