32 REALTOR® JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2015 REALTORMAG.REALTOR.ORG
Phones O;er Touch of Safety
Mobile apps are on guard to alert authorities with the touch of a button in
case you find yourself in a dangerous situation while on the job.
Michelle Jones never anticipated that a phone could save a life—
until one played a role in the safety of a local agent she knew.
Jones’ colleague was on her phone talking to a friend during
an open house when a man walked in and attacked her, recalls
Jones, GRI, a broker-associate with Realty Austin in Austin,
Texas. Luckily, the friend on the other end of the line heard the
commotion and called authorities.
The incident convinced Jones and her husband, Thaddeus,
who has since joined her as a partner in the brokerage, that
something more was needed. They began developing a mobile
app specifically for real estate agents that would allow them to
call for help with the press of a button. That’s how the Real Alert
app was born in 2011. Since then, the market for safety apps has
exploded with a slew of products now available to help practi-
tioners stay safe on the job. Some of these apps allow agents to
enlist a “safety team” that can track their whereabouts as they
tour homes. Others have the ability to instantly and discreetly
send alerts when an agent feels threatened.
The murders of Iowa agent Ashley Okland in 2011 and
Arkansas agent Beverly Carter last September thrust the issue
of safety in the real estate industry into the national spotlight.
While installing an app is hardly a foolproof solution for managing risk on the job, it’s important to know about technology
advances that can help you stay safer.
Is Your Phone Ready and Able?
b Ensure your smartphone is fully charged before meeting with new clients or holding open houses.
b Have your phone’s cellular tracking and GPS functions turned on.
b Check your phone’s signal strength before entering a house to make sure you have strong reception.
b Keep your smartphone in your hand or on your person when touring homes with prospects. Don’t leave it lying around.
b Have your safety app of choice open and running in the background on your phone in case you need to use it in an emergency.