Several recent incidents, including the tragic death of Arkansas Realtor Beverly Carter, have reminded the real estate industry about the dangers they may face, and the importance of being properly protected and educated when showing houses to clients.
Indeed, the National Association of Realtors suggests four phone apps that can help its members when they feel threatened. But is carrying a smartphone enough protection? And, what options are there outside of carrying a lethal weapon? After all, there are arguments for and against doing this.
And what if the smartphone, which Realtors commonly turn to as their biggest protection, may actually be one of the worst to rely on?
Richard Hambrick, vice president of SoloProtect said in an interview with HousingWire that Realtors should arm themselves with more than apps.
Hambrick explained that there should be a two-fold strategy to stay safe.
The first is safety training, which the industry is doing a good job of. But secondly, real estate agents need a tool that they can use to help themselves.
“A lot of people think it is their cell phone that is the great tool, and in a lot of cases, like a flat tire, it works,” he said. However, if a person has the intent to rob or injure, it doesn’t work.
In the case of Beverly Lewis, the very phone that was supposed to protect her was used as a weapon against her.
CBS11 in Arkansas reported that her husband received three mysterious texts from her phone at about 1 a.m. Sept. 26, just six hours after she disappeared, that didn't sound like her at all.
"All of a sudden I received three texts in a row. One said 'Yes.'… Then she sent another text that said, 'My phone's low. The battery's down, and I'll call you whenever I get signal.' …And, then, straight back-to-back, I received a text that said 'Oh, I'm out drinking with some friends,'" he recited. "Beverly's not a drinker…We just want our mom back, and my wife of 35 years…I need her."
The problem is, real estate agents are relying on having enough time to use their phone, or even being able to have access to it.
Hambrick cited that in 2010, there were 85 real estate-related occupational deaths. “It impacts the real estate industry significantly. And is something they need to be aware of everyday,” he said.
One solution is wearable safety technology that will not be as easily detected, as it poses as passive jewelry or an ID badge, for example.
According to an article in The New York Times, “A woman who encounters a threatening situation on the street or elsewhere can press her finger to a Cuff bracelet on her wrist, which will then send an electronic distress signal to one or more people she has authorized through the Cuff app to receive those messages. The signal will reveal her physical location.”
Here is a link to a list of other safety tips Realtors can follow. Please share details of potential options in the message boards below.
And of course it goes without saying: HousingWire does not endorse any course of action or any products mentioned anywhere on this page.