- Associated Press - Sunday, January 24, 2016

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) - Ohio real estate officials have laid out plans aimed at improving the safety of agents in the state, a move that comes more than a year after an Arkansas real estate agent was kidnapped and killed.

HER Realtors recently announced that it is providing a security phone app for all 1,200 of its Ohio agents, and the Ohio Association of Realtors’ board has voted to make a component of the app available to all real estate agents across the state, The Columbus Dispatch reported (https://bit.ly/1JYdiHk ).

“The culture has dramatically changed in our industry,” said HER President Michael Mahon. “Last year we had numerous cases in which agents were put into uncomfortable situations.”

The Real Agent Guard app provides a list of nearby safe harbor sites for meeting strangers, alerts offices and colleagues that an agent is meeting with a client at a specific location and has a panic button that alerts their office and police departments. The app also records video of open-house visitors.

The app was under development when real estate agent Beverly Carter was kidnapped and killed in late 2014, said Justyn Hornor, chief information officer with Arkansas-based Real Agent Guard.

The Ohio Association of Realtors is planning to make the safe-harbor tool available to its members and is reviewing other services from the app to bolster agents’ safety, spokesman Carl Horst said.

“They meet a stranger at a vacant house, and they’re not sure who’s walking through the door, so the industry is trying to take steps to put safety foremost,” Horst said.

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Information from: The Columbus Dispatch, https://www.dispatch.com

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