Real estate agents, increasingly open to being victims of crime, can now find an extra layer of protection thanks to their smartphone.
Yes, there’s now an app for that.
According to a recent article in the New York Post, a new app called Forewarn allows real estate agents to screen potential buyers before a blind meeting. Created by data-analytics firm Cogint, the app is available to those realtors who have been licensed to sale property in their respective state.
Forewarn acts as a safeguard that helps agents vet prospective buyers. By entering the client’s telephone number into the app, realtors are able to pull an instant background check, including information related to the individual’s criminal and financial history. The app is free to download, but a monthly subscription is required to access the information.
The company behind Forewarn notes that they are not a consumer reporting agency and should not be used as such. In their App Store description for Forewarn, the company writes that the service “may not be used in whole or in part as a factor in establishing an individual’s eligibility for credit, insurance, employment nor for any other purpose under the Fair Credit Reporting Act.”
The app is an undoubtedly welcomed addition by those in the real estate industry. According to a recent survey conducted by the National Association of Realtors (NAR), 38% of the agents surveyed said they “experienced a situation that made them fear for their safety or safety of their personal information.” Additionally, 57% of female respondents and 52% of male respondents said they carry a self-defense weapon like pepper spray, tasers or even guns. But, as the Post article notes, some jurisdictions — including large markets like New York City — restrict or even ban realtors from using such weapons while at work.
Some real estate agents already use safety apps. The NAR survey indicates 44% of respondents said they use an app for tracking and alerting colleagues in the event of an emergency. And for good reason. In 2014, an Arkansas agent was kidnapped and murdered, according to the New York Post article.
Such incidents make apps like Forewarn all the more important. Sara Wiskerchen, a NAR spokeswoman, says the real estate community welcomes the addition of safety apps like Forewarn.
“Anything that is increasing safety and that members can use are beneficial,” she told the New York Post.