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The role of women in real estate has changed dramatically over the past few decades. Incomes are increasing, and women are moving into more senior roles.

The result is a growing number of women Realtors with their own teams and agencies and who are flourishing in the real estate business!

The good news is that women make great Realtors, but we have a ways to go in terms of equity at the highest levels.

Women outperform men (couldn’t resist!)

According to the CEO and chief economist at Zillow in its interesting and pragmatic book Zillow Talk: The New Rules of Real Estate, women in real estate rock.

“The difference between the genders is incredibly small, but it is statistically significant. When we control for all attributes of a home, women sell for higher prices and sell faster. In our minds, that makes them the victors in this battle of the sexes.” (Zillow Talk, page 154)

Women in real estate throughout history

Women have been part of the real estate industry since its beginning in the late 1700’s. But in the early days, they mostly performed admin duties– shocking, right? By the late 1800’s, women slowly started to move into the roles of brokers and agents.

When real estate mogul Barbara Corcoran started her real estate firm in 1973, it was still a “man’s world” and a tough place for a woman to thrive. She didn’t let that hold her back and had tremendous success with her business.

She explained, “When I was first starting out, my big mouth got me into the market.”

Since then, the real estate industry has transformed a great deal. Every year the percentage of women in real estate grows, and not surprisingly, they bring plenty of innovation and change with them.

In 2002, I added my own name to the list when I started the first real estate blog in San Francisco, called SFhotlist. At the time, blogs were so new people didn’t even know to call it a blog!

SFhotlist was a one-page HTML site with my impertinent take on the listings of the day. Using my witty banter (what some might call sarcasm) and with the help of a young and unadulterated Craigslist, I attracted clients. It was magical!

Women in real estate today

Women currently dominate the residential real estate market, but men still hold the top positions. According to a 2012 Fortune survey, only 19 percent of board directors and only 12 percent of executives were women in the real estate industry.

Similarly, there is still a vast difference between what men and women are paid. In a 2010 study by CREW Network, in the real estate industry, there were three times more men than women earning $250,000 plus per year. There are signs of improvement, though.

In 2005 only 8 percent of women earned between $100,000 and $250,000, but this increased to 11 percent by 2010.

The picture looks worse in the commercial real estate market, which is still dominated by men across all specializations. In 2004, only 8 percent of women earned above $250,000 compared to 34 percent for men.

Top-level positions occupied by women are limited; women are more likely to reach the level of vice president, but not the level of president, CEO or CFO. Kudos to Sherry Chris, for rocking it with style as the CEO of Better Homes & Gardens.

In 2005, 20 percent of women reached the level of vice president compared to 25 percent of men, and only 13 percent at the level of president, compared to 32 percent of men.

Thanks to initiatives to address inequities and develop women’s leadership skills, a great deal of improvement is being made. A few examples of such initiatives include the Urban Land Institute, the Association for American Architects, and the CREW Network.

Two women who stand out for making it big in the real estate industry are Barbara Corcoran and Ivanka Trump. Barbara Corcoran is a mogul of the most massive proportions. She sold the Corcoran Group, the brokerage she co-founded in 1973 with a $1,000 loan from her then boyfriend for a reported $66 million in 2001.

Today, you probably know her best from her spots on Shark Tank and the Today Show. Ivanka Trump — OK, the name and access do help — is the executive vice president of the Trump Organization and made it to Fortune’s 40 under 40 list in 2014. Not too shabby, ladies.

What we can expect from women in real estate

Exciting times await women in real estate.

There are still inequities, but the gap is closing, slowly but surely. Women are increasingly becoming more prominent. Even in commercial real estate, women are taking up larger projects and making significant deals. Women have shown that they can perform at the same level as men and can hold their own in leadership positions.

Kelli Masters, sports agent and founder of KMM Sports, recently shared her wisdom on how she thrives in a male-dominated industry: “Ultimately, the only way for me to overcome the stigmas working against me was to be persistent and prove people wrong.”

Now that’s some advice all people in the real estate industry can live by.

Let’s roar

Do you have a favorite woman in real estate that’s been an inspiration to you and your career? Let’s share success stories.

Danielle Lazier, Senior Broker-Associate, Keller Williams San Francisco, is a top 10 San Francisco real estate agent. She is founder of, San Francisco’s first real estate blog.