Advertisement

After being attacked at open houses, B.C. realtor creates app to protect people who work alone

Click to play video 'New app for people who work alone' New app for people who work alone
WATCH: A local woman has developed an app to protect realtors and others who work alone. John Hua explains how it works – Nov 9, 2017

As a realtor, Merideth Schutter knows, working alone is part of the job. Four years ago at an open house, two predators decided to close in on her while she was at work.

“I was targeted,” she said. “I had two gentlemen come into an open house, lock the door. One pushed me into the kitchen and the other locked the door.”

Bystanders were able to intervene. The same men made a second attempt at another open house; once again, someone came to her aid.

“I went home and thought, OK, I’m lucky. I wasn’t raped, I wasn’t assaulted, I wasn’t murdered, but I was at a crossroads. Do I leave this job that I love [or] do I stay and find a solution?”

Schutter’s solution was to put the power back into her hands by creating a smartphone app.

Story continues below advertisement

WATCH: Surrey RCMP investigate alleged sexual assault of realtor during open house

Click to play video 'Surrey RCMP investigate alleged sexual assault of realtor during open house' Surrey RCMP investigate alleged sexual assault of realtor during open house
Surrey RCMP investigate alleged sexual assault of realtor during open house – May 1, 2016

PROtect sends notifications to a list of emergency contacts when a user failed to check in for a scheduled event, signalling that something may have gone wrong.

“In [the app], they’re going to find out my cellphone battery life, where I am — which is constantly updating — and a map to get to me,” she said.

Jill Oudil of the Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver welcomes the new app, saying “we’re constantly looking at different technology to help the realtor in these situations.”

Story continues below advertisement

WATCH: How realtors can protect themselves in open houses and private showings

Click to play video 'How realtors can protect themselves in open houses and private showings' How realtors can protect themselves in open houses and private showings
How realtors can protect themselves in open houses and private showings – May 3, 2016

There have been several assaults against agents at open houses in recent years.

Victoria’s Lindsay Buziak was stabbed and killed during a Saanich open house in 2008.

“Even last year, we had a woman realtor attacked at an open house so we’re very cognizant that this is a very important issue,” Oudil said.

The app can be used once a week for free or an unlimited number of times with a monthly subscription.

Schutter hopes the app means she won’t have to quit her day job out of fear.

– With files from John Hua

Advertisement