New app to boost agent safety would ‘Forewarn’ of potential risks

by Kelly McCabe

Despite all the technology that’s involved in the real estate industry today, there still remains a human element that won’t be going away any time soon.

House hunters and potential buyers can search for homes all they want, but most still need and want to view a home with an agent. Sometimes the two parties have been in contact throughout the process, and sometimes, the first time an agent talks to a buyer is when they request a viewing, leaving the agent in a precarious situation of wanting to get a sale but also potentially fearing for their safety when meeting with the strangers.

A new app for licensed real estate agents, Forewarn, hopes to eliminate some of that fear of unverified buyers by providing “instant knowledge, prior to a face-to-face engagement with a consumer, to help professionals better understand and address risk,” its parent company, cogint, explained.

All the app needs is a prospective buyer’s phone number, which enables it to instantly verify the individual, instantly search for a criminal history, verify past or current bankruptcies, show a full address history and verify current assets.

Despite their enthusiasm for their jobs, it’s not uncommon for agents to feel unsafe on the job. In recent survey from the National Association of Realtors, 38 percent of respondents reported having been in a situation that made them fear for their safety. App or no app, NAR recommends that agents at the very least let someone in their office know when they’re going to a showing.