• According to C.A.R. data, 57 percent of Realtors in California are women, but only about a third of leadership positions in brokerage firms with over 100 agents are held by women.
  • Women will attend the C.A.R. WomanUP Conference in Pasadena. This is the first step in creating a statewide network to support California’s female brokers and executives.
  • Women in leadership roles can shape the future of the industry and politics at all levels.

Much ado has been made about the fact that the top leadership positions in real estate are primarily held by men.

Could it be that women are deciding to create their businesses in a way that suits them rather than trying to fight it out in the boardroom for a limited number of seats at the table?

Under the leadership of chief economist Leslie Appleton-Young and vice president of industry relations and strategic initiatives Sara Sutachan, the California Association of Realtors (C.A.R.) is tackling one of the thorniest issues the real estate industry faces — the lack of women in senior leadership positions.

According to C.A.R. data, 57 percent of Realtors in California are women, but only about a third of leadership positions in brokerage firms with over 100 agents are held by women — a statistic that has been virtually unchanged in recent years.

The C.A.R. women’s initiative

C.A.R.’s 2017 Membership Development Diversity Initiative is a new women’s outreach program that seeks to increase awareness about women’s leadership in the brokerage industry. It also seeks to create a community where mentors and leaders can communicate, collaborate, promote, advocate for and support one another.

Goals of the women’s initiative include

  • Creating a roster of California women brokers and owners who are willing to mentor other women leaders, especially those who are broker owners, team leaders or managers
  • Fostering and strengthening relationships within the brokerage and the broader real estate industry
  • Building an online community for current and aspiring women leaders and mentors where they can collaborate
  • Exploring current online groups and communities to seek out advice and support for this initiative in the real estate brokerage community
  • Collaborating with mentors to promote awareness, accountability and transparency regarding diversity in the brokerage community.

On June 8, 2017, women will attend the C.A.R. WomanUP Conference in Pasadena. This is the first step in creating a statewide network to support California’s female brokers and executives.

Key findings among the survey participants

1,592 California Realtors responded to the 2017 Membership Survey. Fifty-seven percent were women and 43 percent were men.

Key findings were:

  • Men are still more likely to be broker-owners than women.
  • A majority of women are opting to form their own brokerages rather than pursuing a corporate leadership career
  • Women are more likely to seek the help of a coach or mentor. Because women broker-owners already seek this type of support, this should bode well for substantial participation in the mentoring and leadership community C.A.R. seeks to create.

Bellwether trends?

Research from the California Bureau of Real Estate (CalBRE) and the National Association of Realtors (NAR) revealed some unexpected findings.

Since 2010, the number of broker’s licenses issued by the CalBRE has declined by 10.5 percent and sales licenses have declined by 16.5 percent.

NAR reports that the number of Realtors over the age of 60 has dropped by 26.8 percent in only one year.

These findings certainly suggest that baby boomers are exiting the business in significant numbers.

Possible causes for the decline

  • The rise of teams, which has placed more pressure on the brokerage model while making it more difficult for individual agents to compete.
  • The inventory drought — when there are too many agents and too few transactions to go around, both agents and brokers are forced out of the business.
  • In 2013, the CalBRE made it more difficult to obtain a broker’s license. This change applies only to individuals applying for a new broker’s license, not to existing broker licensees.
  • Increased technology costs, competition from new business models and the commission squeeze are also factors that may be in play.

Findings from the one-on-one interviews

In addition to the survey results, we also conducted 25 one-on-one interviews with a cross section of female brokers.

Key findings include:

On starting a brokerage

All but one of the women who founded her own company did so because the major brands failed to meet her needs both professionally and personally.

On mindset

Although women reported gender, racial and age discrimination, there was universal agreement that you push through these issues rather than use them as excuses.

On success

Cultivate a learning mindset, explore opportunities to contribute, embrace strengths, set up a strong infrastructure, master your money and surround yourself with supportive people.

Women don’t need to “muscle up.”

On communication style

Women adjust their communication and management styles to fit the recipient.

On company values

Establish core values and then hire, fire and coach according to those values.

On leadership style

Supportive, authentic, upbeat, strong and collaborative.

On failure

Embrace your mistakes and fail fast.

On support

Mentors, coaches, and their “Realtor family” have helped women leaders face business and personal adversity. Most have a strong desire to mentor and support other women leaders.

On partnerships

Set up your exit strategy and buy-sell agreement in your initial partnership agreement.

On family

Partnerships among family members are much more likely to survive long-term than partnerships between people who are not related.

On impact

Women in leadership roles can shape the future of the industry and politics at all levels, and they can make significant contributions to their communities through service and charitable giving.

Areas where women were willing to mentor each other

  • Brokerage management
  • Best practices for entrepreneurship and growth
  • Managing operations
  • Marketing and branding
  • Partnerships
  • Team building
  • Property management
  • Commercial real estate
  • Becoming involved in local, state and national leadership

Leslie Appleton-Young, Sara Sutachan and I would like to see this effort go national.

We invite you to join us as we move forward to create a community where female leaders can mentor and support each other.

Bernice Ross, CEO of RealEstateCoach.com, is a national speaker, author and trainer with over 1,000 published articles and two best-selling real estate books. Learn about her training programs at www.RealEstateCoach.com/AgentTrainingand www.RealEstateCoach.com/newagent.

Email Bernice Ross

Show Comments Hide Comments


Sign up for Inman’s Morning Headlines
What you need to know to start your day with all the latest industry developments
By submitting your email address, you agree to receive marketing emails from Inman.
Thank you for subscribing to Morning Headlines.
Back to top
Network with CoStar, Redfin, Realogy, SERHANT., Divvy, and thousands more in-person at ICLV this October. Prices go up Sunday.Register Now×
Log in
If you created your account with Google or Facebook
Don't have an account?
Forgot your password?
No Problem

Simply enter the email address you used to create your account and click "Reset Password". You will receive additional instructions via email.

Forgot your username? If so please contact customer support at (510) 658-9252

Password Reset Confirmation

Password Reset Instructions have been sent to

Subscribe to The Weekender
Get the week's leading headlines delivered straight to your inbox.
Top headlines from around the real estate industry. Breaking news as it happens.
15 stories covering tech, special reports, video and opinion.
Unique features from hacker profiles to portal watch and video interviews.
Unique features from hacker profiles to portal watch and video interviews.
It looks like you’re already a Select Member!
To subscribe to exclusive newsletters, visit your email preferences in the account settings.
Up-to-the-minute news and interviews in your inbox, ticket discounts for Inman events and more
1-Step CheckoutPay with a credit card
By continuing, you agree to Inman’s Terms of Use and Privacy Policy.

You will be charged . Your subscription will automatically renew for on . For more details on our payment terms and how to cancel, click here.

Interested in a group subscription?
Finish setting up your subscription