Mistimed sympathy note from agents ignites furor

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It was intended as a message of respect and understanding, but an unfortunately timed sympathy note from two Vancouver-based realtors has led to much criticism and grave threats online.
The Toronto Star reported that after 73-year-old Ted Smith’s spouse Audry died a little over a week ago, he received a handwritten note from veteran agents Leanne de Souza and Linda Shaver, complete with their business cards.
“Sorry to hear of your wife’s passing. Please let us know if we can help in any way with your real estate needs when the time is right. Thanks,” the note read.
Smith’s daughter Launi Smith Bowie recounted being in disbelief after learning of the letter.
“My dad is beyond devastated and still really recovering from shock,” Bowie recalled saying incredulously. “You don’t know either of my parents. I’m not sure why you’re sending them a sympathy card.”
Public backlash upon de Souza and Shaver ensued once Bowie posted the note on social media. However, Bowie acknowledged that the furor raised by the letter (which has even led to death threats against the duo) has blown out of proportion—especially since the agents have subsequently apologized to the Smith family.
“These two women have been pretty attacked on social media. I just never imagined it would go to that extent. I was hoping that the real estate industry overall would take notice, but not that these women would be so vilified,” she said. “Not the greatest judgment call on their part, but I do believe they totally get that now.”
De Souza and Shaver defended their note as “common practice” in the industry, explaining that they have spoken to the elder Smith previously when the latter indicated interest in knowing how much his home would go for in a sale.
“Our sympathy was very heartfelt. It was very emotional to hear his loss,” de Souza said. “I’ve had people call me names that you would find unbelievable.”
“It’s too vile,” Shaver added.
The Real Estate Council of British Columbia did not comment on the issue, although it stated that it has begun its investigation.

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  • Bob on 2016-08-15 11:41:57 AM

    I am a realtor and no way is that common practice !!
    Not with attached business cards.
    They remind me of ambulance chasers!!

  • Hi Bob on 2016-08-15 1:10:04 PM

    Hey there, Bob...and any other readers of this story. Sadly, the news has only reported enough to foster some real hate for these Realtors. You don't have the other side of the story. Here is a letter written to the editor of a paper where this issue took place. It would be best if both sides were reported. The bottom line is, the Realtors met the fellow in the course of door knocking in the area. He answered, he asked them questions about the market and the value of his home. Towards the end of their visit, expressed interest in having an evaluation done, but not until he comes back from his vacation. It was about then that he informed them that his wife had just died. They did not know that. They apologized, expressed their sympathies, and quickly left. A follow up card was sent (which is what they were referring to as "common practice"). The card included their sympathies again and that when the time was right, they would be happy to assist with his real estate needs. They are very compassionate people who were heartsick when they learned of his wife's death, not obituary trolling scum like they have been portrayed. Its very sad that the intent they had with the card was not as it was perceived. Very sad that they have taken the flack that they did. Good people, a mistake in judgement that day, but their intentions were pure. A very big learning opportunity. Next time, no follow up...they would just let it be.


  • Ron Butler on 2016-08-15 4:22:47 PM

    I suspect this was just a distinct mistake in judgement that the web and media just took off with. I can imagine the tweets and facebook attacks these Realtors would have experienced and it must have been really ugly.

  • Robin Burr on 2016-08-17 2:53:08 PM

    I feel terrible for these Realtors, they did not deserve the ridiculousness Facebook and the Media caused.

  • Robin Burr on 2016-08-17 2:54:10 PM

    I feel terrible for the two realtors, that wasn't deserved. Mistakes happen. Move on don't publicly humiliate people.

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