From the beat to the street: Growing number of police officers becoming real estate agents


Former Christchurch police officer Kristian Danholt is one of several officers to swap the beat for a career in real estate.

Earthquakes, a terror attack and an intense police negotiation with an offender who shot a colleague in the face – Kristian Danholt saw it all.

But now Danholt is just one of many police officers quitting the beat to take to the street.

The experienced policeman fancied a change, quitting the force after 14 years to become a Christchurch real estate agent with Tall Poppy.


Danholt was in the force for 14 years but now works as a real estate agent.

And he’s not alone. A spokesperson for the company says around seven per cent of their agents have come from a policing background, and that there is a “growing interest” around New Zealand from police officers looking to switch careers.

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Danholt said he had thought about switching to real estate for three years after seeing a number of police officers successfully transitioning and saw the change as a “natural pathway”, with both careers requiring good people skills.

As a child Danholt always wanted to join the police, to provide a barrier between criminal behaviour and normal society.

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During his time he witnessed a number of traumatic events.


Former Senior Constable Kristian Danholt (left) and his brother Constable Clayton Danholt.

During the Christchurch earthquakes of February 2011 Danholt was on the front line, and initially went to the CTV site.

But it was the sight of a Red Bus crushed on Colombo St when the masonry facade fell on top of it, killing eight people, that stayed with him.

“It looked like it had basically been cut in half,” he said.

Danholt was also rostered on during the terror attacks at Masjid An-Nur (Al Noor Mosque) and the Linwood Islamic Centre that killed 51 people and injured 40.

He described feeling “uncomfortable” when he responded, saying the uncertainty of what they were dealing with was challenging.

Also a negotiator when colleague Senior Sergeant Bruce Lamb was shot in the face in Phillipstown by Christopher Smith in 2010, Danholt has seen all sides of policing.

It has given him the ability to relate to people from all walks of life and made the transition to real estate successful, he said.

In Palmerston North, Willie Roy has also made the switch to real estate after 31 years in uniform.

The former senior sergeant loves his new career, saying he now has certainty that he’s coming home every night.

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Roy said he has some memories he wished he didn’t from his time in the police, but said the requirement to be adaptable had transferred well to being a real estate agent.

On starting with Tall Poppy, Willie wondered how he could transition from kicking in doors, locking up offenders and dealing with victims to selling houses, but he was surprised by how much he enjoyed it.

“I describe real estate as being equivalent to a high-speed police pursuit except there are no red and blue flashing lights or sirens.”

Once a police detective, Jim Taare moved into real estate from a background in serious criminal investigations, including some of New Zealand’s highest-profile murder cases, negotiating with gangs and prisoners as well serving as a 10-year stint in professional standards.

Taare says dealing with tricky people or situations applies in both careers, and his policing skills stood him in “very good stead”.

Both police and being a real estate agent made New Zealand’s top 10 popular jobs list in 2020, with many new agents entering the market on the back of the property boom and the Covid-19 pandemic.

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