An Arkansas realtor's recent kidnapping and death is causing more of a focus on the safety of real estate agents. Joplin realtor Mike Woolston says it's a more dangerous profession than you'd think, and part of it is caused by how realtors feel they need to present themselves:
"We want to convey an image of success, so we'll drive expensive cars, wear expensive clothing or jewelry, and give the impression that we're just rolling in cash, even if we're buried in debt. So criminals will target what they think will get them the greatest reward for the least amount of risk."
Woolston adds that another hazard that most realtors either don't consider or take too lightly is the fact that, usually when pursuing a lead, they don't take the time to tell their co-workers where they are and who they're with.
"Unfortunately we probably don't think a great deal about it unless some headline occurs and it gets more people focused on it. We need to be aware of the potential of this happening to any of us."
The added irony in the death of Beverly Carter last month is that September was National Realtor Safety Month.
Joplin realtor Jenny Hocker tells News Talk KZRG her office had a presentation Tuesday about self-defense items like tasers and pepper spray. "At least 15 agents ordered some sort of an immediate self-defense weapon. So I think over the next couple of weeks, that's something that we are all going to be considering."
Hocker says her agency will have a self-defense class in the near future...and they've been contacted by teachers of concealed carry classes.
Hockey also says she had a close call. "If you're gut tells you something is wrong, then get out of the house, however it happens. For me personally, I simply walked to the front door and when the people came outside I said 'I'm so sorry. I've had something come up. I have to leave immediately.'"