The National Association of Realtors (NAR) has dedicated September as REALTOR Safety Month. Employing the components of knowledge, awareness and empowerment, the organization and members of it understand the importance of offering professionals of the industry safety materials and information.
NAR has created a checklist for realtors that formulate a “crisis communication plan.” The checklist gives a rundown of issues that may occur and how to address them. Their “Homeowner & Security Toolkit” is a how-to guide for best practices and the NAR website has pre-designed safety forms that realtors can customize for use in their own offices.
As with any profession, safety is paramount. Helen Hudson, a realtor in the Lowcountry invented an app in April 2019. The app, SafeShowings, is another safety tool for realtors. Hudson’s app, as a business, was recently selected to participate in Charleston’s Harbor Entrepreneur Center’s Accelerator Program, a selective process that is competitive in the local startup and tech industry.
I had a question and answer session with her. Here’s what she had to say.
What’s your background?
Hudson: I’m from South Carolina. I majored in interior design in college and have a background in sales and management which translated well into the real estate world.
What motivated you to create a safety app for realtors?
Hudson: As a realtor, I’ve had situations where safety was a concern for me. After hosting an open house, I had a situation that scared me. I began doing research about real estate safety and realized there should be more safeguards in place. I wanted to become an advocate for safety in the industry. I think there should be a mandate to keep real estate professionals more accountable for who we show property to. The apartment industry has one that requires all potential tenants to surrender their driver’s license prior to viewing an apartment. This is a proactive approach.
What are some statistics about real estate and safety?
Hudson: I recently pulled some statistics from the NAR 2019 Member Safety Report that was just released this month. Some of those statistics were:
• 33% of REALTORS® experienced a situation that made them fear for their personal safety or safety of their personal information.
• 5% of REALTORS® said they had been a victim of a crime while working as a real estate professional.
• 53% of members use a smartphone safety app to track whereabouts and alert colleagues in case of an emergency.
How did you go about creating a safety app for realtors?
Hudson: I knew I wanted to create an app that was different and one that could securely capture an image of a driver’s license. I had this idea in my mind when I found a local tech company, Code + Trust, which executed the development of it.
Are there any other apps like this and if so, how is yours different?
Hudson: Yes, there are other real estate safety apps, but none that will quickly and securely capture and store an image of a client’s driver’s license.
Explain how it works and how it’s beneficial to real estate professionals.
Hudson: In addition to securely recording a driver’s license, there are several additional features. There’s an open house option which enables the real estate professional to quickly and easily capture images of everyone who crosses through the door during a set time. There is also a feature that enables the user to automatically alert emergency contacts as well as dial 911 with just a click of a button.
Where can one find the app and what is the cost?
Right now, you can download at SafeShowings.com. Soon, you’ll be able to download on the App Store. Once downloaded, the user registers and adds emergency contacts. Create a showing, add the client information and scan the driver’s license. Plans range from $9 per month to $99 per year. There are also enterprise level plans offering discounts to offices, teams and associations.
What are your plans for the future with SafeShowings?
Future plans include partnerships and a driver’s license’s verification that includes alerts of publicly available criminal information and so much more. The possibilities are endless, all to provide real estate professionals and listing clients the feeling of protection. We are also taking our advocacy on the road by lobbying to public officials and showcasing SafeShowings at several real estate association conventions across the country. My app has helped real estate professionals create 500 safe showings since its launch in April and we continue to grow every day. My mission is to create a law, policy, or procedure for our industry that requires real estate professionals to capture a secure image of a driver’s license of each person that crosses the threshold of a home. SafeShowings is a tool to facilitate that mission.
For more information visit https://safeshowings.com/.