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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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.