Open House: 6 Leadership Lessons From Top Women In Real Estate

Women are increasing their leadership roles in real estate.

Women are increasing their leadership roles in real estate.

The real estate industry, though it has a majority of certified female realtors, has yet to reach parity in leadership roles, especially in the commercial sector.

As of 2013, women occupied 35 percent of senior executive positions in America’s commercial real estate sector,.according to the Business Journals. However, about 62 percent of all certified realtors are women, according to the National Association of Realtors.

In light of this, here are some lessons from female leaders in real estate that all women can adapt.

Push for fair treatment. According to Tami Bonnell, CEO of Exit Realty International out of US headquarters are in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, “If women aren’t progressing, it may be because men are better at standing up for themselves.” You need to show that you know every detail about the job or industry. This garners respect and may even be used as leverage when tackling issues in your chosen field.

Stand up, step away and come back stronger. Chicago-based real estate broker Michelle Dewoskin told Take The Lead how she got away from enduring sexist comments and the occasional sexual harassment in the office. She then decided to form her own company, Michelle Dewoskin Properties. Dewoskin says, “It’s a relief not having to apologize to a bank or to a boss for having the goals I have and wanting to do things the way I want to do them. That is enormous.” Real estate is a big business, and big businesses are also heavily intertwined with bureaucratic practices, power play, and even abuse. The reality is that women are among the most vulnerable in these instances. Learn to know when to stand up or in this case, step away and come back stronger than ever.

Don’t rush. According to the Hollywood Reporter,   Serena Boardman, one of New York City’s top real estate agents, says she has repeatedly broken records for the priciest Manhattan deals. But while critics point to her affluent background and connections,peers such as Michele Kleier and Kathryn Steinberg say that Boardman did not take shortcuts to her success. They noted that it was her talent and drive that pushed her to reach goals, and this is the case with most agents. According to Yoreevo, a  New York brokerage firm, most agents are independent contractors and get paid only via commission basis. In short, no deal means, no money. This is true for most professions so you cannot expect quick results.

Keep learning. For Ora Reynolds, a realtor in Kansas City, there are projects when we  “have no idea how we’re going to make money doing it. You have to understand what the pieces are and how you make money, but you get to do a few where you’re still trying to figure it out,”she tells  Metro Wire Media, Constantly learning more about the field you are in is necessary to stay relevant and maintain your market value.

Your personal brand matters. Lisa Song Sutton, an experienced luxury real estate agent in Las Vegas, stresses that you must “take hold of your personal brand. Your personal brand is going to transcend any brokerage that you join.” Women should see the value of branding especially in competitive markets where specialization stands out. A unique portfolio and excellent reputation can get you far.

Be yourself. Women may be pressured to adopt a personality that isn’t theirs. This is the lesson shared by Anne Baldwin, administrator and agent of real estate firm Nick Baldwin and Associates in Montclair, New Jersey. She says “I am five feet tall and I look like I’m 12. I have that going against me, especially because I live right outside of New York City and it’s a bit cutthroat. I go into it very confidently knowing all my facts so I have prepared answers as best I can if they come back to me with something.” Our strongest selves are our real selves, regardless if our personality conforms to a notion of what is strong or independent. What’s important is to stay genuine, and be confident about yourself.

About the Author

Janice Meyer is a real estate market analyst, who recently graduated from community college. She complements her day job with freelance stints and currently works on getting her real estate license.