Being a professional real estate agent involves working with new people you do not know and that alone can be a risky business. After all, research shows that Realtors meet with prospective clients they have never met before either at their office or a neutral location 65% of the time. Nearly 40% off all Realtors hosted an Open House alone last year. Almost one in five felt unsafe when doing so.
Agents who have shared their stories online about coming close to avoiding a scary situation when asked to show a home point to a common experience: Something just didn’t feel right about the prospect.
Calls from restricted numbers, requests to see a home on a moment’s notice, or a prospect overemphasizing they will be paying all cash can be warning signs, agents have shared. Several agents have revealed that some sketchy prospects have turned into stalkers – fortunately, that landed them in jail.
Fortunately, over the last decade, the National Association of Realtors along with state and local Realtor associations nationwide have emphasized the importance of personal, professional, and community safety. Historically, September has been Realtor Safety Month, although remaining safety-conscious is a daily task for every agent.
The NAR offers a repository of safety information and tips on its website (nar.realtor/safety), including safety planning strategies, tips and best practices to remain safe, safety training videos, and personal protection resources, which includes safety apps for your smartphone.
Do you need to use a safety app for your phone?
Consider these agent safety study finding from Agent Genius:
- Most attacks took place on Thursday or Friday afternoons.
- Roughly 30% of attack victims are men.
- Most attacks didn’t take place inside major metropolitan areas.
- About half of attacks involved guns.
- Several attacks resulted in murder even though robbery was the original intention.
Here are 5 real estate apps for smartphones that are designed to keep agents safe:
$20 a month – individual agentWhat it does: Forewarn offers an instant background check. It lets you know in advance who you are about to work with by verifying identity, searching for criminal histories, and validating information provided by unknown prospects. It uses as little information upfront as a phone number of the person the agent is planning to meet.
Available both online and through its mobile app, Forewarn instantly can help agents reduce their risk through using due diligence upfront. In addition to a personal subscription plan, Forewarn is available through many Realtor associations as a member benefit.
2. Real Safe Agent
$4.99 month – individual agent
What it does: Real Safe Agent is one of the most robust safety apps designed for real estate agents. It uses Hoosfon to see if a prospect is using a prepaid phone as well as other key information that could indicate a red flag. With Prospect Link, Real Safe Agent offers the ability to request a selfie and photo of their driver’s license. These tools are used to build an “Agent Comfort Index,” which shows if a prospect has been reaching out to other agents and if those agents reported feeling uncomfortable.
By leveraging a social networking design, it allows agents to identify individual safety “buddies,” fellow teammates and partners, and other individuals to create a safety network of people who are alerted instantly when an agent feels threatened or is in danger.
Agents can also use the app to ask for someone in their network to join them at an Open House they are hosting alone via an “Accompany Me” feature.
Other features include Drop in Alerts, allowing you to ask another agent in your network to “drop in” if a someone is making you uncomfortable, and an Open House feature to arrange someone to join you when you are opening or closing – the most dangerous times of an Open House. Real Safe Agent also offers a unique 9-1-1 Alerts feature, as it notes it is the only system fully integrated with the nation’s 9-1-1 system, ensuring the correct address is provided to the 911 operator. The alert can be immediately deployed simply by violently shaking ones smartphone.
$4.99 month or $49.99 annually – individual agent
What it does: SafeShowings, available to more than one million Realtors through their associations, protects agents and the homeowner capturing facial images of prospects. It also collects geolocation information from your phone. If there is an alert involved, SafeShowings will automatically send the stat to your emergency contacts.
During an Open House or individual showing, SafeShowings captures a facial image of anyone who is about to enter a property. It allows you to set a timer during a property showing and if an agent is unable end the timer, an alert is instantly and automatically triggered, after a 5-minute text warning before the timer concludes is sent to the agent as a disable reminder.
4. Homesnap Pro
Free for most agents via their local MLS
Homesnap Pro+ is $599 a year, discounted to $499 a year for the first year
What it does: Homesnap Pro has been downloaded by more than a million real estate agents nationwide. It has a safety tool built into the app. Before a showing or an Open House, an agent can set a safety timer. The safety timer can be set at the agent’s discretion for the amount of time they plan to be at the property.
The coolest feature is that the app uses Homesnap geolocation technology, which means it automatically populates the property address when you are within 2000 feet of the property you want to show.
Homesnap Pro also has a Distress Alert feature that will automatically text to your emergency contacts your time-stamped location, which an agent can access at any time they feel uncomfortable or threatened.
5. SentriKey Real Estate App
Subscription prices for its lockbox service vary based on local association member pricing
What it does: SentriLock is the official lockbox solution for the NAR and is an optional, subscription-based service that associations and members often offer to their members. Its built-in agent safety feature creates an automatic way for an agent to alert their designated emergency contacts in case of potentially dangerous situations.
The Agent Safety feature automatically launches when the mobile app is used to open a SentriKey lockbox. The agent can select a set time – SentriLock recommends approximately 90 seconds, or as determined by the agent – for the app to prompt for a status update. If the agent us unable to respond, the app will automatically alert the agent’s designated emergency contacts if the agent does not or cannot confirm they are safe.
Safety is not an accident
As you can see, many of these safety apps often require a subscription service. But that can be a small price to pay for the peace of mind and comfort it can bring an agent. For more information about other safety technology for real estate agent, see the NAR’s “Resources for Personal Protection” online here.
For help setting up or installing any of these safety apps, reach out on your Tech Helpline app on your smartphone, or call or text a Tech Helpline expert for personal and friendly assistance.