Double Jeopardy—A Female Real Estate Agent Seeks Self-Defense Tips

As a woman and as a real estate agent, I constantly have to worry about my safety.

By Nathalie Nayman December 30, 2016

When I was doing a mandatory 75-hour course, required for anybody who wants to become a real estate professional, people told me all kinds of things. I learned everything about lead paint. I was warned that the chances of me being able to stay in the profession for longer than a year was roughly twenty percent. Instructors even dropped hints that this industry is not half as lucrative and entertaining as the TV shows lead us to believe. But nobody has ever told me that a job of a real estate agent would actually be dangerous. But, to be fair, it’s a no-brainer—a real estate agent meets strangers and walks into different buildings on a daily basis. It’s like we’re asking for trouble.

Shortly after I got my license, I started seeing all these articles. “Heinous cases of violence against real estate professionals.” “Risky Business: Real Estate agent’s killing hits home for Realtors.”

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As a woman, I am routinely aware of the possibility of being attacked. As a real estate agent, I also, as it turned out, have to worry about my safety. A female real estate agent? That’s double jeopardy. In case you are ready to dismiss me as paranoid, at least, I am not the only one. Other people put two and two together (or, perhaps, just read too many articles about attacks on real estate agents) and turned the whole industry-wide fear into a business opportunity.

The result is some very specific self-defense genres. Did you know there are classes like “self-defense for real estate agents” and even “self-defense for female agents” courses? I am pretty sure somewhere there is a course on its way targeting female agents that do only retail in Brooklyn. And if doesn’t exist yet, it should. After all, you can come across any kind of weirdo while trying to lease that ground floor space perfect for an artisanal smoothie shop.

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Alas, I don’t have the time to take the actual courses – as much as I would like to spend my afternoons wrestling some fellow colleagues and practicing groin kicks on plastic dummies. Luckily, there is short cut – countless self-defense advice articles, which are abundant and free. I just wish all these useful tips didn’t contradict each other. After reading dozens of them, I became thoroughly confused.

“Carry with you pepper spray at all times.”

“Do not, I repeat, do NOT bother with pepper spray: hold a set of keys in your hand instead.”

“Putting the keys between your fingers is useless – the wrench, on the other hand, is a different story.” Yeah, I will always keep a wrench in my purse. And a baseball bat next to the car seat. I can put coins around the edge and then roll it up with duct tape. And call it a “deal breaker” or something like that.

And, finally – “Be suspect of everyone.” Because being paranoid and having that suspicious look on my face is a part of my job. In the end, all I was left with the sobering and upsetting “nothing really works” conclusion. Would a gun help? Pointless question, giving the fact that carrying a firearm in New York is not really a feasible option anyway. It seems like the risk will always be present as I am doing my job, and all of us, real estate agents, are destined to ask ourselves the same question as we walk into a dark house that is (supposed to be) empty, holding a set of keys in our sweaty palms, “Is it safe to be here?”

But, on a bright note, it seems that there are things that do work, after all. There is a real estate agent crime story that features a happy ending and a lesson for us all: once, a real estate agent in the Bay Area of Northern California was attacked by a “prospective buyer.” The man started chocking her but she managed to somehow remove his hands from her throat and began talking to him. What I find most stunning is that the agent somehow convinced the guy to allow her to call someone about a “possible job opening.” At the end, the attacker was arrested, and lady lived to tell the tale. So it seems that what really works is luck, common sense and astounding people skills. And if you do possess these skills, one thing is true: not only do you have a chance to save yourself in the event of attack. You also must be one really good real estate agent.

Nathalie Nayman

ABOUT THE AUTHOR Nathalie Nayman

ABOUT THE AUTHOR Nathalie Nayman

Nathalie is an international media trooper. After working as a journalist in Moscow, Nathalie participated in local politics and social movements in Cairo where she covered the protests and political upheaval of the Arab Spring. Nathalie is Agorafy's content manager. She produces and oversees unique and creative content for the Newsroom.

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