Real Estate has evolved into a field with a higher degree of professionalism that’s well suited to women.
For decades, real estate was considered to be a man’s world. Breaking into the industry was difficult for women, so much so that up until the 1980s they could not even buy real estate without a male co-signer. Even though historically, there have been women in real estate almost since the industry’s establishment as a legitimate business in the 1840s, – the first female agent joined the National Association of Realtors (NAR) in 1910- women have had to struggle for nearly five decades to be able to serve on real estate boards. However, with the sector getting more organised, competitive and accepting, there has been an increased penetration of female agents in the industry.
According to industry data, there are more female agents in all states across the US, outnumbering male agents by approximately 50%, putting the female to male ratio at 2:1, bringing an entirely new dimension to the traditionally male-dominated sector. Aspiring female realtors have had to work really hard to prove themselves like in every other male-dominated profession, but gradually they have been able to turn the table, and we are witnessing the emergence of more and more female real estate agents.
The recent shifts in paradigm and power
One of the most recognized sectors in India, and the second largest employer after agriculture, the Indian real estate has quintessentially been a masculine landscape where women have largely remained underrepresented. However, in the past few decades, we have witnessed a significant paradigm shift all across the ecosystem, including the real estate industry which has led to the expansion of firms and the inclusion of female talent. Real estate is no longer a man’s affair; as per industry sources, over 30% women now lead property-related decisions in their families and approximately 50% women are the joint decision makers with other family members.
While the gender role reversal has definitely been a game-changer, the industry itself has undergone a transformation, evolving into a field with a higher degree of professionalism that’s well suited to women. Firms now offer an inclusive workplace culture that values diversity, thus encouraging more women to take up the profession.
According to NAR’s 2017 research, women make up for 56 per cent of licensed brokers, 63 per cent of full-time sales agents and 69 per cent of part-time sales agents of the entire real estate workforce. Many large developer groups, real estate-focused lending institutions and even private equity firms now recognize the extra measure of multi-tasking, empathy, insight and assertiveness that a female brings to the table, and boast of multiple women holding senior executive roles. A broader market vision, nurturing outlook and corporate goodwill enable women to balance out and offer the essential synergies required to run the business, while their inherent multi-tasking abilities help them cope up in this competitive world.
The Female Advantage?
There is an increasing number of women who have learnt the intricacies of the business and are now taking up real estate as a profession and working independently as agents. The line of work not only offers personal and professional growth prospects but also allows women the flexibility to choose their own working hours from the comfort of their homes.
There are instances where partners have quit corporate jobs to join their wife’s part-time real estate initiatives, turning it into a full-fledged business. Kim Howard, a well-known name in the US real estate, quit her corporate job when she recognized her passion for sales and entrepreneurship, and ended up founding her own real estate firm Howard Homes Chicago. It wasn’t long before she recruited another player into her business- her husband.
Some elementary competencies required to become a good real estate agent are strong, active network connections, familiarity with local areas and firm negotiation skills. Since these attributes come naturally to most women, they are becoming quite successful at their jobs, gradually redefining the industry altogether. Women are generally known to display a greater level of empathy, and persistence, they also tend to be more sensitive and patient towards the client’s need leading to higher client satisfaction ratio.
Typically good at balancing work and family, women are better at multi-tasking, a critical aspect of real estate. While many careers demand them to choose between fixed long hours and working in a caring capacity as a home-maker, real estate enables them to fulfil both goals while working with a nominal initial investment. All one needs is a phone and a laptop to get started.
The Gamut of professional opportunities
Majority of firms today recognize the benefits of diversity under the current “she-economy.” Female buyers now control 70-80% of all purchases, and companies are slowly moving the needle by embracing the rise of female talent into executive roles creating opportunities where they will lead the industry and break traditional barriers.
The current real estate market not only provides ample opportunities to engage with a wide array of people- right from owners, developers, customers which is a great confidence booster butalso brings exciting daily challenges that accelerate the learning curve for the beginners. Most women today begin by featuring at the entry-level and administrative positions in the real estate industry and climb up the corporate ladder swiftly with hard work and talent.
Some go on to form bigger teams in association with other small entities, while some even end up hiring their own team and setting up their own firms.
In a survey in the US, it was found out that 68 per cent of real estate agents either aspired to hold executive positions in their companies or own their own business.
Apart from paying well, a career in real estate also presents diverse possibilities for women’s professional flowchart. While one successful deal in a month can bring up to 30-35k INR enabling them to significantly contribute to the household income or their own savings, it also acts as a stepping stone towards future ventures. With some substantial experience on hand, women could also take up training and mentoring of new property advisors at various institutes that offer certification and degree courses in the field.
There are plenty of instances where women have set up their own one-stop-solution destinations for all services required by a real estate seeker/potential buyer such as vendors, loan assistance and architectural and interior designing help etc.
Is a career in real estate a cake-walk for women?
Unfortunately, not. Despite the fact that women have now proved their worth in the business, it hasn’t exactly been a cakewalk. Like every other male-dominated industry women have faced their share of gender discrimination, but undoubtedly there are a greater number of equal possibilities for both the sexes now. Unlike earlier, the industry today presents a strong opportunity for female real estate agents to market themselves to key clients as it comprehends the strength, intelligence and an increased corporate goodwill that a successful female real estate agent brings with her.
Needless to say, a career in real estate is both challenging and rewarding. Looking at the current scenario, it seems that women real estate agents have just started to touch the tip of the iceberg. Firms are consciously placing women in leadership positions due to their distinctive skill set, outlook and life experience that not only expands the firm’s vision but also yields on-ground results. The future of women in real estate is exceedingly bright and transformational, and the world has just got a glimpse of what they can do.