Iowa realtors wary in wake of Arkansas realtor's killing - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Iowa realtors wary in wake of Arkansas realtor's killing

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DUBUQUE (KWWL) - The recent killing of an Arkansas realtor is raising red flags for local home sellers.

Arkansas investigators found the body of realtor Beverly Clark Tuesday in a shallow grave outside Little Rock, after she went missing from an open house.

That strikes a tragically familiar chord for many Iowans, who recall the fatal 2011 shooting of a Des Moines-area realtor, who was shot and killed in a West Des Moines model home. Her case remains unsolved.

The Dubuque Board of Realtors requires its new members to take a safety course, compiled by the National Association of Realtors.

Karen Hudek has been a realtor in Dubuque since 1999 and now carries pepper spray, though she's never had to use it.

"If I'm showing houses to a stranger, I always have in the back of my mind to be aware of what's going on around me and to not put myself in a position to have an exit blocked," Hudek said.

She said the killing of the Arkansas realtor and the fatal 2011 shooting of the Des Moines realtor remind her of a time when she felt uneasy before showing a house.

"I called the police just one time, and they were very willing, when I just explained that I was uncomfortable doing this showing, 'Could you just hang around?' And they were very happy to do that," she said.

Fortunately, the showing happened without any problems, but Hudek said she is always on guard when dealing with people she doesn't know.

"We have to use common sense and protect ourselves to the point where we can," Hudek said, "but there's always the possibility when you're doing things like this that there can be something bad happen."

The Dubuque Board of Realtors said there are more than 1,500 open houses every year in the tri-state area.

Joe Leiser is the board's executive officer. He said the nearly 250 realtors with the Dubuque Board of Realtors are highly encouraged to be cautious.

"There are some things that they can do to avoid running into problems," Leiser said. "One would be to never meet anyone at a specific property. Have them come to you first, either at your office or at a public place so you have a chance to meet them when there's other people around."

He points out realtors are very exposed, with their photos on business cards, advertising and the Internet.

Other safety tips include never entering an empty home alone, because somebody could be inside, and always letting a colleague or family member know when and where a showing is happening.

The National Association of Realtors has an entire section of its website dedicated to safety, which now includes a statement on Arkansas realtor Beverly Carter. That site is HERE: http://www.realtor.org/topics/realtor-safety
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