The next time you go to an open house for a house for sale, bear this in mind: that chatty, hyper-friendly realtor who encourages you to take an information sheet about the home might just be packing a sidearm under their blazer.
A recent survey by the National Association of Realtors found that 1 in 6 realtors state that they carry a gun on the job. Why? Because being a realtor has become an increasingly dangerous job in our increasingly dangerous world. Non-realtors like me don’t focus on the risks, but they’re pretty apparent when you think about what realtors do. They typically work alone. They make appointments and meet with potential clients who are total strangers that might potentially want to rob them or otherwise do them harm. And they regularly go into darkened, empty houses where an unknown home invader might be lurking. In short, being a realtor doesn’t just require a gift of gab and sales skills, it also requires a considerable bit of intestinal fortitude, too. Not many of us have jobs that require us to regularly go alone into strange houses where we might encounter unknown people with unknown intentions.
The statistics bear out the risks that realtors face. A 2018 NAR study found that 33 percent of the realtors surveyed had experienced a situation that made them fear for their safety, and five percent responded that they had been the victim of a crime a work. And, as the article linked above shows, in some cases realtors have been the victims of assaults, armed robberies, and even abduction, kidnapping, and murder. That’s one reason why the NAR has stepped up education and training efforts to try to help realtors deal with the risks. And it’s why an increasing number of realtors have decided that, for their own safety, it makes sense to bring along a weapon when they are going on the job.
I think being a realtor would be a tough gig for a lot of reasons. You’re going to be dealing with a lot of people who really aren’t serious buyers and ultimately are just wasting your time, and you’ve got to be enthusiastic and pleasant whenever you’re with a client, which must be exhausting. The personal safety risk just makes the realtor role more difficult. If I had a job where I thought I needed to cary a gun to be safe, I think I’d look for another job. But I also think this: I’ll never again wonder about whether realtors really earn that commission when a house is bought and sold.