Michelle Jones didn’t think twice when a friend and fellow real estate sales associate asked her to help  out by meeting a prospect at a house. “It was a vacant house, but I figured she had screened the buyer,” says Jones, a sales associate with Realty Austin in Austin, Texas. “I showed him [the prospective buyer] the property, and he went in for what I thought was a handshake. Next thing I knew he was trying to kiss me,” says Jones. Thankfully, Jones rebuffed him and the buyer left quietly. “No one knew where I was, anything could have happened,” according to Jones, who says this is only one of many uncomfortable situations she’s experienced.

Soon after, Jones and her husband decided to build a safety app that allowed real estate professionals–and anyone in potentially dangerous situations–to easily call 911, record information and locate local hospitals. Called REAL Alert, the app is available for both iPhone and Android phones.

“I love the simplicity of the “Call 911″ button. You just keep the app open when showing a property or walking through an empty parking lot at night and  simply touch the big red button to summon help,” she says. In addition, the “Creep Data” feature is useful in situations where you’re shaken and not thinking clearly. “I had a friend who was attacked by a man. He ran off after the attack. She told me she had a clear picture of him in her head when she called 911. But, by the time  police arrived she couldn’t remember a thing. This feature walks you through what the person looked like, or you can voice record the description immediately while the info is fresh in your mind,” says Jones. “There’s also a camera function so you can take a picture of the person, if you’re able to, or of the car that person was in.”

Building an app wasn’t cheap, says Jones. “It cost us about $4000, which included both an Android and an iPhone app. We’re charging $1.99 for the app and have sold about 900 so far, but it’s a long way from breaking even.” She said she got lucky that the company she used provided a high-quality app. “Always get a price estimate in writing and view some apps that they developed. You want high-quality graphics and easy functionality.” Jones notes that many people are now outsourcing the app programming to other countries in order to get cheaper prices. “I didn’t feel comfortable with that, but it’s an option for those who don’t want to spend so much.”

REAL ALERT is currently available on iTunes and Android Market at a price of $1.99. It is listed in the ‘Lifestyle’ category and is compatible with iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad. REAL ALERT is available
for download at: http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/real-alert/id436455476?mt=8 or https://market.android.com/details?id=com.realalert.android&feature=search_result.