Selling homes doesn’t sound like a dangerous job. But plastering your face on billboards across town and meeting regularly with total strangers isn’t the safest strategy, either, and realtors are taking steps to ensure their own personal safety.
A new report from the National Association of Realtors found that a full 16 percent of realtors carry a firearm for self-defense. That number changes based on gender, as 25 percent of men and only 12 percent of women choose to carry a gun on the job.
They have good reason to be cautious. While a small percentage of realtors reported experiencing a life-threatening situation (3 percent), a number of high-profile murders have forced the realty community to take precautions.
Arkansas real estate agent Beverley Carter was killed in 2014 while showing a home to a fake buyer named Arron Lewis.
When asked why he chose to kill Carter, Lewis answered simply, “She was a rich broker. Because she was just a woman who worked alone — a rich broker.”
In 2011, 27-year-old Ashley Okland was killed while showing a home in Iowa. A few years earlier, in 2006, Sarah Anne Walker was stabbed 27 times inside a model home in Texas.
Actual murderers may be few and far between, but the risk of meeting an unstable person in an isolated environment is ever-present.
Thirty-eight percent of realtors said they experienced a situation that made them fear for their personal safety or the safety of their personal information. Women were more likely to say they felt unsafe (46 percent), and suburban areas were more frequently the site of unsafe situations than rural or urban areas (40 percent).
While individual realtors understand the necessity of self-defense weapons, the National Association of Realtors isn’t immune to anti-gun bias. In an article entitled 56 Safety Tips for Realtors, the authors make no mention of firearms or any other weapon. Tip #12 recommends a self-defense class, but nowhere does the article recommend carrying a weapon to use in a life-threatening situation.
Firearms aren’t the only weapon realtors carry. The survey also found that 19 percent of realtors carry pepper spray, 7 carry a pocket knife, and 5 carry a Taser. In total, 52 percent of men carry a self-defense weapon and 57 percent of women carry a weapon on the job.