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New Forewarn app lets real estate pros perform background checks on their clients

Real estate agents face significant dangers when doing their jobs as they often have to meet clients alone in isolated properties. There are of course many personal safety items agents can carry for protection, and self-defense courses can help prepare them for dangerous situations they might find themselves in. Soon however, they'll be able to take advantage of a new layer of protection, using their smartphones.

The New York Post reports that a new application called Forewarn will soon launch. Targeted at real estate agents, the app allows them to screen potential buyers ahead of a blind meeting. The app is being developed by a company called Cogint, and is being made available to real estate agents who're licensed to sell property in their respective states.

Forewarn acts as a safeguard that helps agents vet prospective buyers. By entering the client’s telephone number into the app, agents 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.

Cogint says that the app is not a consumer reporting agency and shouldn't be used as such. On its website, Forwarn says 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.”

Even so, the app should be welcomed by many real estate pros. A recent survey from the National Association of Realtors found that some 38 percent of agents have "experienced a situation that made them fear for their safety or safety of their personal information.” In addition, 57 percent of female agents and 52 percent of male agents admitted to carrying some kind of self-defense weapon such as pepper spray, tasers or guns. But one problem with this is that in some states - New York being one of them - real estate agents are banned 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.

Mike Wheatley

Mike Wheatley is the senior editor at Realty Biz News. Got a real estate related news article you wish to share, contact Mike at mike@realtybiznews.com.

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