Like many of my Realtor family, I can’t shake the uneasy feeling I’ve had ever since Beverly Carter went missing last week. Now we know where she is, and the police have a suspect in custody, and we are all left with a hole.

Now, I’m not even remotely comparing the feeling of losing a Realtor friend to the loss her family is facing. This hole is a little different.

Because we have ALL done exactly what Beverly did. We got a call from a cash buyer, looking at a home in a good price point, who wants to go see it after work. We perhaps let someone know where we were going (although, if we’re honest, many times we haven’t), we went out with a bright smile on our faces and the hope of a commission on our minds.

However, we were the lucky ones. We didn’t field the call from someone with a different agenda than that of purchasing a home. We came home to our loved ones and sometimes the sale happened, sometimes it didn’t, and we woke up to continue working the next day.

What will it take for Realtors to wake up? What will it take for the public to treat us more professionally? Will we be strong enough that Beverly shall not have died in vain, that her death will be the catalyst for improving the industry so that others won’t befall her fate?

I think we owe it to Beverly, her family and ourselves.

We need to stop worrying that the person on the other end of the phone will be scared off when we ask tough questions. After all, when they call a Realtor, they expect a professional, and they expect us to treat this financial investment seriously. We need to stop worrying that “someone else” will jump on that lead. Because you know what, y’all? The REAL buyers won’t treat you poorly.

We need to understand that when we take appropriate care and precaution of ourselves, we are also protecting the consumer who trusts us with their home sales and purchases. We need to ask whether open houses are worth the risk they entail. We need to alert our agent buddies as to our locations. We need to set code words and use alert apps and ASK QUESTIONS.

I’m trying really hard to focus on the good that Beverly can do for the 1 million-plus Realtors out there. Please honor her memory and take care of yourselves. No house is worth losing you.

Leigh Brown is broker-owner of Leigh Brown Associates, a Re/Max Executive Realty team based in Concord, North Carolina.

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