By Jordan Rogers
The housing market, both locally and country-wide, is in flux, and real estate is a career path vastly growing in popularity.
C2 Tactical, a local retail sporting goods store, is offering a Realtor safety course that helps real estate agents learn general awareness as it pertains to being able to defend themselves in the event of an attempted attack on the job.
One of the 27 training courses C2 provides, the realtor safety course covers a variety of action items — situational awareness, basic preparedness, understanding the realities of being a truly targeted population as it pertains to the average person, and learning a protective skill set.
Reports show that during the pandemic, real estate agents have grown in number by 60%, putting thousands of new housing professionals on the market.
“That population alone has increased, so we just want to provide that service and the knowledge, and they can take away from it what they want,” says Vincent Perez-Mazzola, director of training for C2 Tactical.
Despite the courses’ pandemic break, they have come back strong. Managing member Vincent Vasquez says he’s seen courses reach up to the mid-40s in participants.
“We try and look for new product offerings when it comes to delivering service and education to our customers,” Vasquez says. “I would say we’re always trying to find new stuff to deliver. (We thought) it would be nice to offer a class like that, a real estate safety class, just to give people a general awareness of things that they should do.”
The consensus from participants has been that of surprise. Vasquez says many of the participants learn something in the course that they hadn’t even thought of prior to taking it.
“As far as interacting with people, I think they have one of the most challenging jobs because they have to interact with random strangers almost all the time,” Vasquez says. “I think it’s a very challenging job. Because most of us don’t have that random life interaction.”
Perez-Mazzola stresses women need to be careful.
“There’s been some stories for years about women being assaulted –- particularly at open houses,” he says. “It really would be a perfect spot. They can get relatively physically close to strangers, they’re in an isolated place that they’re not familiar with, so you could get caught in a spot that’s not the best.”
Realtor Anita Kegler thinks that what C2 is doing is a great thing and something that is of need in the Valley.
“It’s very important to be able to defend ourselves,” Kegler says. “Just the awareness of it by a woman or a man attending a class, and then bringing this awareness with them when they’re at the grocery store or at an open house, I just think it’s fantastic.”
The course’s key action items are personal awareness when hosting open homes, house security and awareness items to pass along to potential buyers and sellers, use of self-defense options and available tools, and less-than-lethal defensive techniques and items you can carry with you.
For Vasquez, awareness is the key in defending oneself.
“I think it’s really about awareness,” he says. “I think that is the key element that we try and have people take away from it. Are you aware of your surroundings? Are you aware of the people that you interact with and the proximity that they are? Are you aware of the things that you’re carrying in your vehicle?”
Perez-Mazzola says knowledge is the key to learning defense techniques.
“There’s a reality that truly being able to defend yourself takes skills and takes ability and time,” Perez-Mazzola says. “People don’t get a black belt overnight; it takes years to do that. It’s why avoidance and awareness skills which can be done immediately within an hour and it not physically being challenging or difficult to train is so much more important than any of the hard skills.”
Speaking of black belts, Kegler has one. She is trained to the highest level of goju ryu karate. When she switched careers from an IT manager to real estate seven years ago, the reports of violence didn’t deter her, but she says having that training is certainly helpful.
“We are out there all the time; we get calls from people we don’t know quite often asking us to show a home,” Kegler says. “Sometimes we’re at open houses and we may or may not be there by ourselves and we have strangers walking in and out of the home.
“That makes us a target, and our business cards have our phone number and our pictures on them. For anybody –- man or woman –- that can make you a target.”
With the training she’s armed with, Kegler suggests others follow suit.
“I’ve had many, many years of training, so I naturally take precautions that other people don’t,” she says. “When I was told C2 Tactical was going to be doing classes for Realtors, I thought it was a fantastic idea.”
In the courses, Perez-Mazzola teaches that if violence can be predictable then it can be avoided. Everyone must be aware of their surroundings and think about their next steps.
“What’s worse than not surviving a situation is, is surviving it and being scarred for life because you made some bad choices,” he says. “We want people to survive spiritually, emotionally, financially, psychologically, legally; it’s not just about not getting hurt.
“There’s a lot to it out there. In Arizona, if you use physical force or lethal force improperly, even if you’re the good guy, you become the bad guy really quickly.”
Realtor violence was a hands-off subject at one point. Now it’s a mainstream topic.
“Most people have no real threat against them; they just don’t,” Perez-Mazzola says. “Being in a deadly force encounter is like being attacked by a shark, but these people are potentially targeted. For years it was a hush, hush thing.
Nobody really wanted to talk about it. If it was mentioned to a broker, he or she would back off and say, ‘Oh no, no, our people are fine.’
“That was mainly because they didn’t want to take any responsibility for it and pay any money.”
The course has been popular since it started. Vasquez says his favorite part about the course is seeing the growth in knowledge among participants.
“Just seeing the light bulb of people realizing that there is opportunity for them to improve,” he says. “Whether that’s in their own personal safety, or their own personal security of information. Just a kind of, ‘That was really informative. That was really good. I’m glad I took that. I’m going to share that with my friends.’”
For those on the fence about taking the course, Vasquez says to consider it.
“It’s a couple hours out of your day,” he says. “It’s definitely worth your time to learn and think about your job from an outside perspective when it comes to your personal safety.”
Information on the realtor safety course can be found on C2 Tactical’s website at c2tactical.com. The course’s cost is $100.