Real Estate Agent Podcast 27: Carl Carter Jr.
I do what I call my mom test, the Beverly test. And so I think through, would this piece of safety education that I'm training on, would that have saved my mom's life?
Carl Carter Jr.
About This Episode
In 2014, Beverly Carter was the victim of a kidnapping gone wrong. In what quickly became front page news, her senseless death gave the topic of real estate agent safety a national focus. Today, her son Carl Carter Jr. is the Founder and Executive Director of a non-profit organization named in her memory.
On this episode, Carl breaks down the importance of agent safety, including advice that every real estate professional should follow in order to stay safe on the job.
For more information on the Beverly Carter Foundation, please visit BeverlyCarterFoundation.org/
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JON: Hello and welcome to Shop Talk: The Real Estate Show. I'm Jon Forisha and joining me today is Carl Carter Jr., Founder and Executive Director of the Beverly Carter Foundation, a non-profit organization dedicated to agent safety. All right, Carl, well, thank you for joining me.
CARL: Yeah, absolutely. An honor to be here with you.
JON: So you run the Beverly Carter Foundation, which is named in memory of your mother. Could you give a brief history of what happened to her?
CARL: Hi. Yeah, absolutely. Well, I, um, you know, I still can't believe it. Um, you know, we are nearing the fifth anniversary of when, when I lost my mom and for those that aren't familiar with our story, um, my mom was a successful real estate broker in the Little Rock, Arkansas area, and she had been in the business for a number of years, was a top producer, loved the industry, and she was working with a husband and wife. And so she was learning about their, their needs and their desires, and then learning about their background, which they had told her that they were moving in from, from out of state. They were relocating due to work, they were cash buyers. They needed to get into a home quickly. And you know, it's really kind of a real estate agent's dream. You know, you have motivated buyers and, and um, and unfortunately my mom didn't know that, that on the other end of of that, um, there's phone calls, there's emails that she had, but with this couple that you know, that she was being deceived, these people weren't anything that they said that they were, they weren't from out of state, they were just across town and they weren't seeking to purchase a property at all. They perceived my mom as, as this rich broker and you know that, I call them bad guys, so forgive my elementary terminology, but the husband bad guy kind of has been on record a number of times when, when questioned why Beverly, his response was and has been because she's a rich broker that worked alone. And, you know, I think that that's really a driving force and a safety message and what we're doing with the foundation because really why she was targeted applies to all of us within the industry because they based her on kind of a perception that all real estate agents are rich, not necessarily because you know, what was in her bank account. And so they had this plan that they would, they would kidnap this rich realtor and they would hold her for ransom and they would get all of this, this perceived well from, from my father, uh, through the ransom process. And, um, I'll tell you my mom did so many things right. You know, as far as fighting people know who she was working with based on what she knew where she would be showing a property. And so, you know, after they kind of, you know, are essentially tricked my mom into leading them to show 'em a property in a rural area. They kidnapped her and you know, they, while they didn't anticipate that the second my mom went missing people would know where to look and that people would have some background based upon the information you've been given. And so they truly panicked when, when they saw that law enforcement was moving a lot quicker than, than they thought that they would. And so, um, you know, sadly, tragically, um, they ended my mother's life and abandoned, you know, their whole plan of trying to, to get this ransom money. And, uh, I tell you, I, when you're faced with something like this, you know, those of us that are parents that we think about protecting our kids, we don't necessarily think about ourselves and the threat for, you know, us getting kidnapped. But we certainly don't think about that for, for our parents. And so, you know, I can't, I can't even tell you, you know, kind of even sitting here and talking to you five minutes later what it's like to, to know that my precious mom, my very best friend, was kidnapped while showing property and, and put in the trunk of a car and later, you know, murdered and buried by these horrible people that kind of walked around the same community, lived in the same community that, that we did. It's a harsh daily reminder that I lived with and quite honestly, it fuels me daily to keep this good work that we're doing, and safety, education awareness moving forward.
JON: Wow. Wow. That is awful. So the, the Beverly Carter Foundation that you began in her honor, is a 501(c)(3) organization. What kinds of services do you provide?
CARL: Yeah, so, you know, it's a quirky little foundation because you tell them it exists solely to, to raise safety, education, awareness, and even victim advocacy for lone workers. But I'll say this, this initial phase, and we've been at this for almost three years now, has been, you know, exclusively almost to the real estate industry and, um, it's enlarged. What I'm personally most often asked to do is that groups will have me come out and I, I have a presentation that I give face to face and we talk about in depth from beginning to end my mother's story. And we kind of peel back those layers of that, that predatory plan and all of the, you know, these really alarming ways and technologies that, that the bad people, I'm kind of used to, to, uh, to deceive my mom. And, um, but we have this fantastic group. We had a, you know, a board of directors. It's about 15 strong, uh, geographically diverse, um, and representing all different facets of the industry from, from title to mortgage to, to um, brokerage owners. Um, it's a great group of people that are all passionate about the safety of people within, um, you know, at all levels within our, our grade real estate industry.
JON: So outside of the foundation, what is your personal background? Are you yourself a real estate agent?
CARL: Yeah, I am. You know, when my mom was first taken, you know, it, you kind of have a choice to make because you're so devastated and you have so much emotion that you can kind of, you know, your coping mechanism can, can be this, just kind of lay down and die with them or you can get to work. And so I'm, I'm feel very fortunate that, that I was compelled to get to work. Um, and so I started speaking out on, you know, kind of what happened to my mom and talking about safety and that, that led to, um, you know, I wanted to know more. I wanted to be, have the street cred. I didn't want to just be the realtor son. I wanted to know about how we gave, you know, kind of infiltrate, become one of the troops so that we can really drive change. And I did that and it's been pretty eye opening because, you know, do you want to talk to an agent about safety and, and what to do for safety during an open house. It really goes a long way for that person in that, in your training class to know that you conducted open houses yourself. Um, you know, it's not just, um, you know, some high level, uh, you know, something you've read about. So, um, prior to that though, you know, I, um, it's really like itself very well I to to what we're doing with the nonprofit. I am, I have a pretty extensive, um, experience in, in an adult learning and, and training, um, within the health insurance space. And so I have a comfortability, thank goodness I'm in front of, in front of people and I always kind of joke that I'm a horrible student. So I, um, you know, as we think about our safety training, we really want them to be, um, kind of tailored for, for guys like me that are so quick to pick up their phone and get distracted. So, uh, we rarely try to make things build upon that, that prior experience to make things, uh, you know, it's interesting and engaging as possible.
JON: Okay. So getting into the nitty gritty of agent safety, what are I guess some of the biggest problems that you see agents repeatedly do?
CARL: You know, there's this phrase, I mean, it's not one that I made up, but it really kind of illustrates the point that too many agents in the industry are what is known as a pop tart agent. And what is meant by that is that, you know, the phone rings or you get an email lead or you know what, whatever notification and you just pop right up. You don't ask questions, you do, you do very little to nothing about validating, you know, who they are and their identity. Uh, and you just go show a property and vacant property and you're all alone with a complete stranger.
JON: Sure. Yeah. Cause you want that lead.
CARL: Absolutely. Absolutely. And you know, I'm the first to admit that, you know, our safety solutions also need to be practical solutions because we do want the commissions. We, you know, we have families to take care of. Um, so, and I'll selfishly kind of admit that, that when on evaluating, you know, safety processes, I, it's kind of two fold. One is that I ask, does this seem practical? Would I do these things like in my real estate business? Like for real is, you know, it may sound great, but am I going to do it? And then secondly, I do kind of what's called, you know, my mom tests the Beverly tests. And so I think through would this, would this piece of safety education that I'm training on, would that have saved my mom's life? And so things that, that quickly come to mind, and I always rattle off our importance of verifying our client's identity and for, you know, agents across the country have different, different levels of comfort and how they do that. Some agents are perfectly fine with, you know, a new lead, just texting them a copy of their driver's license. And then you'll hear the rebuttal and you know, for every solution there's a bottle and you know, they, oh, well what is it to falsify your driver's license. So then you, you take it to the next level and you say, well, in a perfect scenario, you would have them meet you in the office, you would do a consultation, complete a client profile form, and uh, get a photo copy of their driver's license there, ensure that it matches. And then, you know, as you're probably aware, most states, um, all but I've researched, have access to resources to actually validate for that state. Yeah. What a, um, a, um, valid, you know, driver's license looks like are valid, you know, schools. So it's, you know, while those resources are meant for, you know, maybe though that they're checking for restaurant alcohol consumption, um, it's also good resources for those of us using ID as a identity verification. So, um, and then, you know, the, aside from that, um, I, I can't stress it enough. Um, and we almost dismiss I think, um, safety educators that, that get up and say, you know, trust your gut, trust your instinct because we hear it so often and it's like, yeah, yeah, that's safety one oh one. But I'll tell you, even in my mom's case, we know right before she walked into that house that day, the, the bad guy had, they kind of changed the plan last minute owner, the husband and wife, or to both be there and at the last minute they stay, they came to her with this, this change in plan that the wife had gotten caught up at work and they requested because they were so few images of this property online that my mom, as she walked through this home, you snap photos, text them to the wife, that the wife would be responding with any questions. Um, and so I know without a shadow of a doubt that my mom, before she entered that house before she agreed to go through with this new plan or altered plans of how to show this property that day, um, I know that she had that thinking feeling in her stomach that it's like, come on, this isn't what we agreed to. Um, and so I, it's always kind of my number one wish that is when people think about my mom and when people walk away from training classes that they feel empowered to, to make their personal safety a priority and not override that kind of God given instinct that, that kind of, you know, that spidey sense that lets us know when things aren't quite right.
JON: Yeah. Yeah. Sometimes your body knows things that your brain can't seem to handle. Okay. So do you think real estate is more dangerous than it was 20 years ago?
CARL: Do you know what? I do. I do, but because of, you know, I think technology is really a driving force in that. Um, and I'll explain why. So, you know, while I may not have data to show that, you know, the physical threats are, you know, there has been, you know, an increase or a spike in dose. When you start think breaking down agent kind of safety and security concerns. I can't tell you how many agents that I have personally spoken to about their experiences with, you know, some creep saw their beautiful picture on a billboard or in the paper. And so he starts the stalking, the harassment, the sexual harassment. Um, and, and so certainly, you know, technology has given the bad people the CQP hate calls to victimize in ways that they couldn't before. And of course, you know, we not only have, you know, our clients that we have to be mindful of and talking to them about cybersecurity and their own personal safety. Uh, but you know, there's scams against real estate agents themselves going on daily. You know, I, I've had just yesterday I had, um, an issue with a number of people that I'm close to within the industry affiliates that among the emailing them pretending to be me asking for information. Um, so yeah, by, by and large and, um, I have a huge spike and I think the therapy truly reinforces the need for us to kind of keep this conversation, even though it's uncomfortable. It's not sexy. It doesn't necessarily give us a competitive advantage, but, but there is certainly a need for us to keep these conversations going.
JON: And in a lot of ways I feel like that's, that's maybe why it's such an issue, agents safety because I mean everyone just wants to get the next lead and they're not, you know, they're less interested in how could this turn bad and more interested in how much money could I make if I close this deal.
CARL: Yeah, I completely agree with you. And you know, I another plus, like we talked earlier about, you know, me becoming a realtor and you know, becoming, you know, getting in the club and really learning what, what it's like to be an agent. Um, I felt the theme of all the cost and the time associated with getting into the industry and then I'm trying to practice what I preach. And so I'm insistent upon in my processes that that new clients meet me in a public place for that initial consult. Like that's just kind of a non negotiable, that's how it works. And so I have all this time invested, all this money invested in, become an agent. Um, and then I have clients that have literally walked away. They say, Hey, you know what? I don't, I mean, good for you doing that, but I know I can just call somebody else and they'll show me the property right now. And sadly they're right. Yeah. So that's staying of watching clients walk away. Uh, is is something that I struggled with and really it Kinda has fired me up because you, you here, you know, all these, these coaches out there talking about the need within real estate to, to practice our scripting and how we frame things so that we can just, you'd be most effective as a sales person. And you know, I always try to encourage people and it's what I do daily is to think about how I frame my safety concerns in a way that doesn't make those clients feel like, well, this realtor thinks I'm an ax murderer. I don't want it to have business with him. So, um, yeah, certainly we can raise the bar there.
JON: So how can agents make that a part of their daily routine? You know, make safety a part of how they conduct business.
CARL: The biggest thing is consistency and repeatable processes. And that's something that I'm pretty passionate about. You know, we have so many parameters in this industry to, to ensure that legality of, you know, of the home selling process. But we have a lot of free reign with kind of outside that with how we personally conduct our business, how we interact with people, the frequency in which we reach out and the method at which we store those communication. And so, you know, from my, my business, you know, I, and I know I'll found a little nerdy here, but I have, I have forms for everything and you know, I'll be the first to admit, you know, I, I used to joke with my mom because she kept a paper file, um, on all of her clients. And she did that. Of course when my mom was taking her, this was back in 2014 and I'm like, mom, you know, it's 2014, get with the times like, you've got an iPad, you got a laptop, are you keeping all these paper file, keep its programs and you're part of her safety strategy. And also her, her, uh, her strategy to be able to efficiently service her clients was to keep it old school by keeping paper files with all of her client documentation. She or anyone within her brokerage could go pull the file at any time, assist her with a deal or know exactly who she's working with. And so similarly, like with me and you know, now and don't, don't we love it. Like when we, you know, we used to make fun of our parents and then we found ourselves doing the exact same things.
JON: Oh yeah.
CARL: So I keep up. Yeah. Right. So of course as the universe would have it, I, uh, I keep a paper file for my clients, um, at least for certain basic pieces of information for that same reason so that people know who I'm working with. Um, especially that, that initial client questionnaire. I encourage agents when they talk about, Hey, I'm getting into the industry, what do I need to do? I want to be safe. And I tell them, I'm like, you know what? You're going to have to tell people when they're trying, when you're trying to select appropriate, she noted here that education is key. And I say absolutely you want to get a broker that you get along with. You want to make sure that you're going to be able to, to be educated about the industry. And then also I encourage them to, to assess kind of the safety culture of that brokerage. And I don't mean like do we have safety posters all over the walls? I mean do, is that brokerage sophisticated enough and do they care enough to have protocol and communication channels in place where you can reach out to our people. Um, you know, can reach out to you at any time to know exactly where you are, where, where your deals are and you feel comfortable enough in that brokerage to be able to share that information. Yeah, it gets a little complex, but, but I love like, you know, there are brokerages that I've met out there and especially, or, or maybe even, you know, it down a little bit from that and talk about, uh, agent teams. So the team leader will be, you know, they have this really tight team and so they've all gone into their iPhone and they share location with, with their team members and one really cool team out and in Colorado Springs, they, they've developed this whole kind of, um, language and it's all around realtor safety. And what they use in this language is nothing but emojis. And so they have this one special emoji that, that any of them can send to one another. That's just kind of a, Hey, I'm checking on you and then, you know, based upon how you're doing, you know, uh, you would respond with, with these different emojis. And I, you know, I can't even remember them because they were so obscure. It wasn't like, you know, we hear so often like the read file and different things like that. Uh, but they were like random things like the apple on OT or something. Um, but it, it was really clever and I love it. They're really open with sharing their location, sharing their deals and uh, you know, kind of being accountability buddies.
JON: Yeah. Yeah. That's great. Along those lines. How is technology making the profession safer? I mean, obviously location sharing is huge and cell phones in general, but how else?
CARL: So some really cool things with technology, especially that I see. So I'll just rattle off a few that I absolutely think are game changers. Other people might see that others are back to the point earlier that I made out. I think that cross safe processes and technology, they have to be practical and they have to integrate with what we've been doing, um, and not feel like they're getting in our way or making our jobs harder. So to that point, you know, there, there's really cool technology out there right now, um, through an ars reach program called cleared if technology that Yag your laptop up or your iPad up at an open house and, and instead of having a paper sign in sheet, you actually have, um, you know, the system to where people can just kind of manually kind of log in right there. Um, I love it for a million reasons. Um, one it's good for, for, for lead follow up. Um, once that person kinda checks in electronically, their information goes away. If you don't have to worry about concerns of someone coming to sign and after another and seeing someone else's information, they're listed right above. Um, another thing within open houses that I do and people are always really interested to talk to me about it is that I've implemented a cloud based camera into my org analysis. And so what I do is I just, I will, when I'm doing an open house, I know that I'm going to take my, I, it's, I use, there are a million different ones you can use, but I use an Amazon cloud cam. It costs me 120 bucks. It keeps the last 24 hours of recordings up in the cloud. I don't have it an additional monthly and I have a a what is important though is that, you know, in order for this video to be kind of live, you know, going straight up into the cloud, we really, you do have to have internet. So to ensure that I'm not having to access a client's Wifi, I take a my fi, I have a little old, you know, a little device that I use or use your hotspot on your phone, um, to, to ensure that the year's going up. And so the great thing about a cloud-base camera is, um, are great things is that even if that came or were snapped in that moment, all of that video footage is up in the cloud. Um, and then for like the particular model that I, I use it is two way communication. So I never encourage anyone to do an open house alone, but we know we're being very real. There are going to be times that you are probably going to have to want alone. And so it has, um, these cloud based cameras have, you know, the ability for if someone has your log in, they could be, you know, maybe it's your spouse, they could be at home, you know, during your, you know, watching the kids while you're doing your open house and they can watch that footage alive just to make sure that you're cool and you're doing okay. And then similarly, the one that I use has a feature to where they could, they could even speak to you over the cloud camper. So like in the past where like I felt a little like, or my open house, I feel like there like, you know, 30 people inside of the house and I'm just like, please, you know, I feel a little out of control. Then there had been times in the past that my wife has actually come over the over that and just say, you know, hey, Mr. Carter, this is, you know, Kim, your assistant just wanted to check in to see how your open house is going. And it kind of adds this level, even if it's, you know, a little, um, a little tricky, um, or tricks to re I should call it, but, um, it adds this level of like sophistication all of a sudden you look like a technical genius and you know, you've got this assistant that is remotely checking in on you and, um, you know, knowing that, that there's accountability in it, even better, such a huge deterrent to crime.
JON: Oh yeah.
CARL: That's why we insist upon getting these IDs and meeting people in public place. And then just simply knowing that a property is under surveillance can be a huge deterrent. Yeah, of course. You know, we can't mention video surveillance without, you know, encouraging agents to, to know the laws within their specific part of the country, uh, regarding, you know, video and audio surveillance. So make sure before you implement that type of process that, that, you know, legally what you need to do. I'm here where I'm located, you know, as long as I have a sign and my sign says, you know, welcome to this open house. Glad you're here. Please be advised that, um, premises are under video surveillance and that covers me from where I am. So those are some of my favorite technologies. I could, I can ramble on for a bunch of others. I get pretty fired up about it.
JON: Oh yeah. I love those kinds of cameras. I have a ton of smart home stuff all over my house. I'm sure it drives my wife crazy, but you know, when I'm out now and it's amazing and just be able to pop in and make sure everything's okay. So I can definitely see that being a huge asset for an open house.
CARL: Absolutely. And they're so portable. I think people are just a little intimidated by because it's something new and it just seems like it might be cumbersome. But yeah, once you've done it a couple of times, I mean it's just, it becomes standard part, you know, I keep what I kinda call my, my, my realtor bag in the back of my car, you know, has my rubber mallet and my, you know, flashlight and then it also has my cloud camera.
JON: Yeah. And it's become so easy. I mean, they used to be pretty complicated. The first one I bought, you know, six or seven years ago, was pretty hard to set up. But nowadays you're right. I mean it's just really just like plug and play. It's super simple.
CARL: Absolutely. Yeah. You've got a little bit of set up on the front end and then we have literally plug and play.
JON: Yeah. Yeah. So where do most crimes occur? Everyone always talks about open houses, but I mean showings, there are so many opportunities it seems like in real estate to be taken advantage of.
CARL: I'll give you my experience with this. You know, we're limited in crime data related to real estate because you know, our really, our two big sources for crime statistics come from, um, an ars annual safety survey and then also self reported data from the Bureau of Labor and Statistics. I'll tell you from the conversations that I've had with literally hundreds of victims. Um, the general, the general types of victimization that I see happen in open houses and showings. Um, I, for those victims that have that do not fall into those categories, I think that we do owe it to them. Just to, to slide in a disclaimer here, to say there are absolutely other types. It's happened to men. It can happen to women. It can happen when you have a seller that is very upset when a deal has gone sideways. And I know of agents that have gotten beaten up and those, so we have to acknowledge that these two things I'll point out aren't, aren't, um, you know, the 100%. But I want to tell you, when it comes to open houses, almost every agent has a story related to their open house. And maybe their story is as simple as, I don't know how many times I've done an open house that I was sitting there and although nothing happened, I felt so vulnerable. And then from there it goes on. Where there stories that you could say agent could tell that people were coming through casing the property, agents would find out at the conclusion of their open house that people had come through an unlocked windows, you know, and so many agents don't think to check to make sure the windows are locked at the conclusion of an open house. And then all kinds of variety of anything that could possibly be stolen during open house. You know, so many of us self included have, have had that history of um, of theft. And you know, I should have probably led with this next one. And that is during the showing process. And that is where I have personally had the most, um, a heartache because of my mom, but also because of the heartbreaking conversations I've had with the agents that have been raped. Um, or um, you know, sexually assaulted in some way. Um, or, um, typically it does revolve around sexual assault. The stories that I've personally been told. But you know, the, the stories typically go in and sweet, sweet lady too that is share their stories with me. They, they feel shame. And so many of them placed blame on themselves because they say they say things like, I know in training they say, don't let yourself get blocked in a room and always let the client lead. And it's like, it was like, you know, in those moments you just want to stop them and hug them and say this is her fault. But, but to that point, um, it so often, um, my experience has been that it's been some creep that gets an agent trapped in a room and you know, whether it is sexual assault or theft, um, that, that seems to be the kind of the, the highest trend of what I see. And it's really heartbreaking.
JON: Yeah. I'm sure. I'm sure you've heard more stories than you ever wanted to hear along those lines.
CARL: Oh yeah. And then it's like, you know, you want so badly, you know, you offer a hug and, and uh, you know, luckily now I, at least I've been in this long that I've know of resources that I can direct direct into. But you just want to fix it and yeah, you can't. And so, you know, when you get to work to try to keep it from happening again.
JON: Absolutely. Well, if somebody's wanting to learn more about the Beverly Carter Foundation, how would they look you up?
CARL: Well, we have a website and I'm so proud of it. Um, you know, what started as a website that had, you know, my, my mom's picture and um, her, her tragic story, um, has grown into a website with great resources on it. So the website is BeverlyCarterFoundation.org. And what you'll find there is if there was a section that I was like, Hey, make sure you check this out first is to go under, uh, from the top menu, go training and then downloadable resources. And so there you'll get one sheeters that you can take to sales meetings and just say, hey, here's a quick safety reference and there are a number of resources out there on different topics. And so that's a, a great way that you can kind of keep the safety conversation going. And you know, it's a, it's a grab it printed and done. But otherwise out there, we also have a lot of training videos that can be shared and, um, and we continue to grow. So I am excited about that. Of course. My email address is email@example.com and anyone is always welcome to, to reach out to me to either talk safety, give ideas for safety best practices or um, you know, honestly, I always welcome any, any questions about the, so many realtors are so passionate about giving back to their communities that, that have done so much for them. And so if anyone ever has any questions about, hey, what, what are your lessons learned for starting a nonprofit? I uh, I can hopefully save you a little bit of heartburn cause it is, it's been full of its challenges.
JON: Yeah, absolutely. And we have a featured a few of the articles that you've written, uh, on our website, so we'll include links to those in the show notes as well, uh, for, you know, more safety tips. Uh, I know you've written a lot about safety apps that realtors could use. Um, a lot of good info there. So thank you so much, Carl, for joining me and for sharing your and your mother's story.
CARL: Well, thank you. Pleasure's all mine. All mine.
JON: That's it for this episode of Shop Talk. Thanks for listening. If you enjoyed the episode, you can subscribe to us and leave us a review on your favorite podcast player of choice. Shop Talk is a production of The CE Shop.