As a real estate professional, you put yourself at risk every day. Tasks such as meeting new customers, holding open houses, showing properties and letting strangers into your car might be jeopardizing your personal safety. In fact, the real estate and rental and leasing occupation have seen an average of 75 deaths a year from 2003 to 2009, according to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics. Since the 2014 death of Crye-Leike agent Beverly Carter in Arkansas, the industry and media have put more focus on the daily risks real estate professionals face.
So, how can you protect yourself as well as the potential sale? Lee Goldstein hopes to solve this with Real Safe Agent, a crime prevention app for real estate professionals. Real Safe Agent was custom built for the real estate industry and uses behavioral science to help target predatory behavior. It uses the collaborative prevention model to prevent attacks. Real Safe Agent ensures that agents can visually identify each prospect before they meet and allows the entire real estate community to come to the aid of an agent if that agent chooses.
This system is deployed across the entire MLS. It works by the agent first agreeing to meet a prospect in a public place. The real estate professionals then send the prospect a text message link which invites the prospect to take a quick picture of him or herself and type in their name. This way the agent knows who to look for in the public meeting location. If a prospect chooses not to fill out this information, this can be seen as the first red flag; thus a real estate agent may decide to bring another agent with them to meet the prospect.
According to behavioral scientists, predators typically meet with many agents before making an attack. The next component of Real Safe Agent is the Agent Comfort Index, which on average tells you how comfortable other agents have been with said prospect. This will help agents contacted by the prospect to determine whether or not they should meet or to take safety precautions. Real estate professionals can also see how many other agents have sent this person a prospect link both in total and in the past 14 days.
Lastly, Real Safe Agent has an “Accompany Me” feature that allows agents to take action to help protect themselves by requesting another agent join them for a showing. Agents who meet up with prospects alone can also use drop-in alerts to protect themselves. If you choose to meet a prospect alone, Real Safe Agent allows you to have another nearby agent casually drop in on an appointment when you send an alert. Before you get out of your car, you can place your phone on “showing mode”. In “showing mode” a fake home screen will show up on your phone. If an agent holds down on any button on the phone for 10 seconds, it will alert someone to casually stop by the showing as if they were just previewing. These people can be other agents who are in the area (and using the system), family or friends you add into the app, or watch commanders at your brokerage, association or MLS. In the case of an emergency, agents can call 911 when in showing mode to alert the police.
Using behavioral sciences as well as community action, Lee hopes his model will be the new standard for the real estate industry. The overall goal of the app is to keep the agents as safe as possible before meeting up with a prospect, as well as protect agents should they feel uncomfortable on location. Real Safe Agent has partnered with many local and state associations. Contact your association to see if they’ve taken that step.
We want to hear from you, let us know in the comments what you think of the current state of real estate safety. If you’re using the app, we want to hear your stories. Is it working?