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By nature of profession, real estate practitioners often find themselves in situations that can compromise safety. Because these risks exist, it’s crucial to take every precaution—including notifying others of your whereabouts—to stay safe in the field.

Enter the Homesnap Pro app’s Safety Timer and accompanying Distress Alert, designed to help agents remain safe while carrying out their day-to-day activities. When at a listing, the timer, set by the agent, counts down the allotted duration, and upon expiration, alerts the agent’s emergency contacts with the phone’s location. The app will inform the agent when time is running low, so that he or she may choose to either add more time or stop the timer. If circumstances warrant, the agent can tap the Distress Alert button to send a text to their emergency contacts.

Accessible when viewing a listing in the app, the timer ensures safety is never an afterthought.

“You set it just like you would put on your seatbelt,” says Iris Lassiter, REALTOR® with Welles Bowen REALTORS® in Toledo, Ohio. “It’s just a habit. I’ve gotten so accustomed to sitting in the car out front before I go in, setting it, and then walking in. I recommend everybody use it.”

Lassiter, who was introduced to the app and timer during a training seminar, experienced the feature in action during an open house that extended beyond the duration she set. The timer immediately notified her emergency contacts, who then reached out to confirm her safety, all in less than five minutes.

Likewise, Tracy Ryan Edwards, sales associate with Coldwell Banker Heritage REALTORS® in Dayton, Ohio, sets the timer before exiting her vehicle, and for every engagement, no matter how routine it may be.

“I use the Safety Timer for everything. It increases my sense of safety even doing simple things like changing lockboxes, because you just never know,” says Ryan Edwards, who first learned of the app and timer from her local board of REALTORS®.

And if activated in the presence of a client, the timer offers a discreet alternative to manually sending a text or making a phone call.

“While out in the field working with clients, I am able to start the timer during visits to properties and then keep my phone in my hand or pocket, where it is most accessible, to actually initiate the text alerts for help if needed,” says Michele Brantley, REALTOR® with Weichert, REALTORS® in Burke, Va.

Such ease of use can make all the difference when facing a potentially dangerous situation. In fact, once the duration and emergency contacts are set, one tap is all that’s needed to start the timer.

“If an agent has figured out how to do searches through their regional MLS, which has some complexity to it, then they would have no problem using the Safety Timer,” says Brantley.

Lassiter agrees: “If you’re a real estate agent and you’re already doing the things real estate agents do, it’s as easy as turning on the radio.”

The timer also serves as a preventative measure in addition to established safety protocols, particularly when meeting prospective clients.

“We’re heavily focused on serving Internet-generated leads and clients,” says Sam DeBord, managing broker of Seattle Homes Group, Coldwell Banker Danforth in Seattle, Wash. “That means we often haven’t met the person before they ask us to show a property. We want our agents to be able to meet new clients in a safe office location first, but also to have backup safety measures in case something goes wrong during the appointment.”

DeBord’s backup measure of choice is the Safety Timer, readily available in the app. “Since they are relating information about the property to their clients from the app while showing the home, it’s easy for them to set the Timer without the client noticing or being bothered.”

Recognizing the need for an effective safety tool, Homesnap developed the Safety Timer and Distress Alert late last year. Since then, it’s been embraced by agents, brokers and MLSs nationwide.

“They’ve put their entire business model on working in conjunction, and supporting, brokers and agents,” says DeBord. “Adding features to ensure our safety is just another sign that they’re a great partner for the industry.”

The Homesnap Pro app is available on iOS and Android and is compatible with Apple Watch and Android Wear.

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