A new app aims to make estate agents feel safer on lone property viewings by alerting ‘buddies’ when they need help.
Users enter the viewing length time and names of people viewing property in the ViewBuddy app and their buddies – colleagues or friends – get a text telling them their friend is going to an appointment with a ‘what three words’ location.
They then get an alert if the time limit has expired and a message to ring their buddy if they haven’t had confirmation that the appointment has finished. The app will also alert all buddies to contact the emergency services if the agent enters the PIN backwards.
Ed Mead (pictured), co-founder of Viewber, the firm behind the launch, says companies have struggled to address safety issues during property viewings which was first highlighted by the disappearance of Suzy Lamplugh in July 1986. Suzy left her estate agency branch in London to meet a ‘Mr Kipper’ at an address in Fulham for a viewing and has never been seen again.
Mead says that although mobile phones have helped, making a call with an alert password could exacerbate a situation. He tells The Negotiator: “Agents are good at taking basic precautions, confirming someone’s ID and having an emergency word when phoning the office, but there are still risks and it’s not always possible to make a telephone call.”
The Suzy Lamplugh case took another twist after a former detective told a national newspaper earlier this year that prime suspect John Cannan, who is currently serving three life sentences in prison, was seen throwing a suitcase into an Essex canal three days after the estate agent vanished.