In the past five years, women-owned small businesses have grown; 20 percent to 25 percent of small businesses are now owned or led by women.
You might also be surprised to know that according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, women constitute 57 percent of the country’s workforce, with 34 percent in senior roles.
These statistics are impressive and encouraging, but the numbers significantly slip for women in real estate at leadership levels — one of the last male-dominated strongholds of business.
In real estate’s early days, women filled office and clerical roles, and by the 1880s, women were moving into the roles of agents and brokers, though at a relatively slow rate.
As women continue to be a driving force in the real estate industry, the number of women in leadership roles has grown, though again at a moderately slow rate.
A recently released report, “Women in Leadership in the Real Estate and Land Use Industry,” from the Urban Land Use Institute (ULI), endeavored to fill a void in current research on women in the workplace, which has largely evaluated Fortune 500 companies and ignored nuances in real estate.
The ULI report drew its findings from a survey of more than 1,200 female ULI members, focus groups and interviews with a varied group of industry employees across the United States.
The study found that a female chief executive officer currently leads 14 percent of companies — and of the limited number of women holding a top position within their organization, 93 percent ran small companies with less than 100 employees.
So essentially, while women make up 25 percent of ULI’s membership, they account for less than a quarter of its CEOs.
As women in real estate and as small business owners who started out in the 1980s, it’s a shame to see that not much has changed by way of women reaching higher levels in the industry over the past 30 years.
We believe that there is an opportunity here, in this day and age, for female real estate professionals to command respect within the framework of deal-making while also being able to pay attention to the day-to-day details involved in working with a client.
In the spirit of moving the needle and pushing women into leadership roles, our advice to women who want to maximize their productivity in real estate is this:
1. Prepare your client and be proactive, not reactive
The process of purchasing or renting real estate in Manhattan can be challenging and complicated, especially given all the bank regulations and co-op board requirements.
It’s your job to simplify this process for your customers and clients by thinking ahead and dealing with complications as they arise.
Manage expectations by giving each client a timeline for each step of the process. The timeline helps to avoid surprises, and clients are then prepared to work on each phase of the transaction one step at a time.
2. Stay on top of communication
Try to answer phone calls and emails as quickly as possible because the real estate business moves quickly and clients depend on their broker for an accurate and immediate response to their questions.
Also, other brokers appreciate timely responses to their requests for appointments, status updates on properties and requests for information.
Over the years, you will build up a reputation for being a professional, reliable and efficient broker if you respond quickly to inquiries. This line of thinking applies to punctuality as well.
Allow yourself enough time to be 15 minutes early to an appointment in case there is a problem with transportation.
3. Grow with change
One final and crucial thing to take away is to be willing to change with the times. Don’t be scared by change because regardless of these ever-changing factors, one thing remains the same: If a person has the ability and drive to succeed in business, he or she should go for it.
We have found that if we work hard and follow up leads, we can earn a living on our own terms and push ourselves above and beyond our own expectations.
Being a leader is a challenge, but never frame it in your mind as something you cannot do because of your gender.
Ann Ferguson, partner and licensed real estate broker at Klara Madlin Real Estate and Klara Madlin, founder and licensed real estate broker at Klara Madlin Real Estate.