Portrait of young woman on the street wearing face protective mask to prevent Coronavirus and anti-smog and using smartphone

Are you using a safety app? You should

Too many REALTORS® will tell you that at some point in their career they’ve experienced a moment of discomfort or even fear during a client interaction.

That very situation is happening now to female Realtors spread from Vancouver Island to the Fraser Valley.

As the Board has repeatedly warned members, there is a disturbed individual out there, specifically targeting professional Realtors using graphic, sexual comments, texts, and images. If you receive a call from this man, the moment your alarm bells go off, hang up and report the interaction to police. Note, the time, day, phone number from which he called from, his remarks, etc. Every detail will help police.

Be on guard; harasser still actively targeting Realtors after weeks of abusive calls

Currently, multiple police forces are working together to try to catch the perpetrator. This is not a one-off occurrence, more than two dozen members – that we are aware of – have been threatened over the last number of weeks and he has not been caught.

And this harasser is in the spotlight – perhaps deliberately – at the same time as another high-profile Realtor murder case is back in the news – Victoria’s Lindsay Buziak, was fatally stabbed while showing a property in 2008. The case remains unsolved and now the FBI is assisting in the investigation.

There are few professions that have both a public profile, plus offer plenty of opportunity for easily finding personal cell phone numbers and arranging meet-ups.  The very nature of your client-focused job requires awareness and planning when it comes to personal safety.

Thankfully, this man hasn’t gone beyond calls or texts, but no one knows what he is capable of. We strongly encourage all members to be diligent and protect yourself. 

Are you using this built-in safety feature in a Realtor product you use all the time?

Luckily, there are a variety of tools and apps available that with some foresight – meaning you have to set them up and then activate them BEFORE you end up in a vulnerable situation – can help you handle unforeseen safety issues when showing homes or meeting with prospects.

SentriLock’s Agent Safety feature

Agent Safety is a feature in the SentriKey app that will automatically and discreetly alert your designated emergency contact.   

When you use the app to open a lockbox, the Agent Safety feature will launch. After a set time (approximately 90 seconds, or as determined by the agent), the app will prompt for a status update and will alert your designated emergency contacts if you do not or cannot confirm you are safe. The app is free to download and is available to those using any SentriLock lockbox.  

Take advantage of your built-in smart phone technology

According to NAR’s 2020 Member Safety Report (the National Association of REALTORS® in the US), 58 per cent of American Realtors use a smart phone safety app. The most common are: Find My iPhone feature and GPS Phone Track for Android. If you haven’t yet checked out how to use your phone’s built-in features, here’s a primer – for both Apple and Android – on the most underutilized safety features.

The top two are the Emergency SOS Mode (this is for iPhone, but Android has a comparable feature) and Medical ID & Emergency Contacts. It’s amazing how many people have never updated or used these features. Check them out.

Other popular safety apps – some free – or for a monthly subscription fee

Free apps include Circle of 6, bSafe and Life360.  These apps are based on you adding in your loved ones’ contact info and then a combination of you activating a ‘help’ mechanism plus GPS will alert them and guide them to you (or you of course, can track down your loved ones).  Red Panic Button is a simpler version of Circle of 6, is also free, but for more features plus no ads has a one-time, nominal charge. 

According to NAR, the next most-popular personal safety apps used by their members are two that require purchasing and apply only to the US. Forewarn and HomeSnap Pro. Forewarn provides immediate background checks for showing prospects when you provide their phone number. HomeSnap is a property search app for clients, but also has a countdown alert similar to SentriKey’s Agent Safety feature.

Find more safety resources and tips on our Fraser Valley Realtor safety pages on REALTOR Link® or CREA’s Realtor safety pages as well.