The recent discovery of the body of a missing real estate agent in the US should act as a reminder to property managers and agents that they need to be vigilant at all times, says a real estate agency director.
US agent Beverly Carter from Arkansas was abducted while showing a property and her body was found in a shallow grave in nearby bushland last week.
A suspect has since been arrested and charged, saying to reporters that he targeted her because she was “a woman working alone and a rich real estate broker”.
RE/MAX Western Australia managing director Geoff Baldwin said the real estate industry should not be paranoid about safety but they should remain mindful that we do live in troubled times, particularly with drugs and other pressures leading to robbery and violence every day in our community.
“It is very simple for an agent to be lured into a vulnerable situation by someone posing as a prospective buyer or tenant, especially if the property is vacant or the owners are not at home,” he said.
“There is no need for agents to become overcautious but a simple set of office guidelines put in place by the principal as part of the OHS policy can avoid a similar situation happening here in Australia.”
TNQ Rentals director and property management trainer Malcolm Riley said over the years he has had people threatening him with guns and knives.
“We are a very unique profession in that we go into people’s homes,” he said.
Mr Riley said something he has been pushing for a number of years now is an app called ‘Help Me’.
“The Daniel Morcombe Foundation came out with an app and a lot of people think it is just for kids, but it is not,” he said.
“In this app, if you feel uncomfortable, you can alert people that you have logged into the app.
“The app is fantastic for us in property management and over the last few years I have put it in a lot of offices that I consult with.
“Making a phone call could escalate the situation, whereas this is just pressing a button,” he added.
Mr Riley said he also used the app Viber, where his property managers would text back when they had left every property during the day.
“A lot of these property managers will leave at 9:30am and they don’t get back until 5pm, so that is where it is important to have tracking,” he said.
“I do think principals need to sit up and take a bit more notice of putting things in place like the Daniel Morcombe app or Viber.”