According to the National Association of Realtors (NAR) as of 2022, 66% of all Realtors are female. This number shows a significant shift from the historically male-dominated field and shines a spotlight on the growing impact of female dominance in real estate.
In this article, we’ll delve deeper into the increasing role women are having in the industry while exploring how they’ve overcome obstacles to establish themselves as influential figures—highlighting a few of the modern female trailblazers in real estate.
By highlighting key case studies and providing insights and strategies for allyship, our aim is to empower agents, both female and male, to create a more equitable future in real estate.
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The history of women in real estate
Since the earliest days of the real estate industry, women have been notably absent. In fact, when NAR itself was founded in 1908, its membership was 100% male.
Then, with the increase of women entering the workforce, there was a draw to real estate specifically due to its flexible work hours and high earning potential.
However, female agents had to chart their way through a terrain dominated by males, facing institutionalized sexism and stereotypes. With perseverance, they gradually carved out their space by helping to usher in an essential shift in the industry.
Bringing women into real estate led to unique perspectives on how to conduct business and nurture relationships in this field. Their inclusion into the home loan process (without the need for a male cosigner) in 1974 only enhanced their autonomy within the marketplace, further increasing their interest in real estate opportunities.
Understanding the current landscape of women in real estate
Now, not only are female real estate agents the majority, single women homebuyers have been outpacing single men since 1981.
When it comes to leadership in the field, women are no longer confined to the sidelines. Zillow, one of the leading real estate platforms, has been steadily working toward increasing its female leadership numbers—boosting the number from 34% in 2019 to 40% in 2022.
Female-led real estate startups that are focused on equitability and sustainability are another fast-growing sector in the industry. Divvy—a property tech company that aims to make homeownership more accessible— was started by Adena Hefets, who used her own childhood experience to reimagine the rent-to-own model for future hopeful buyers.
Women have not just become Realtors; they’ve become leaders, decision-makers, and trendsetters, transforming the business of real estate in the process—moving from virtual non-existence in 1908 to becoming the majority.
Modern challenges for women in real estate
Despite these strides, challenges still persist for women in the real estate industry. One key issue affecting women in real estate is the wage gap, including wage disparity for women of color. According to a study by The Chicago Association of Realtors, women in commercial real estate are paid 30% less than their male counterparts.
Also, despite significant improvements, access to leadership roles remains a barrier for women. Cultural biases and a lack of mentorship opportunities often hinder their progress in climbing up the corporate ladder.
By addressing these challenges and promoting inclusivity, the real estate industry can create a more equitable and supportive environment for all professionals. Providing equal opportunities will not only benefit women but will also contribute to the growth and success of the industry as a whole.
Women breaking barriers in real estate
Even with these consistent challenges, women are still breaking norms and redefining the path to leadership.
Here are a few examples of influential women in real estate and their extraordinary journeys that have left a significant impact on the industry:
Susan Daimler: Embodying authentic leadership
Susan Daimler, the President of Zillow, has reimagined leadership by embracing authenticity. Her journey to the top wasn’t marked by a single groundbreaking moment but rather a continuous process of self-reflection—particularly in an environment where men predominantly hold leadership positions.
Balancing her personal life and professional ambitions while raising children, she found her essence as a leader by maintaining her authenticity. This approach has helped her grow Zillow to one of the largest real estate companies in the world.
Daryl Fairweather: A beacon of inspiration
Daryl Fairweather’s story is one of resilience and tenacity. As the Chief Economist at Redfin, she has demonstrated that women in real estate hold a significant place in economics, another traditionally male-dominated field.
She strongly believes in sharing knowledge and research to build a better real estate world for the future. Her insights, showcased in this comprehensive podcast interview, shed light on her unique experiences and her invaluable contributions to the industry.
Both these women have carved their niche in the real estate sector, proving that gender does not limit capability or success. They challenge the norm, inspire change, and set the bar high for future leaders.
Their stories teach us that perseverance, authenticity, and a willingness to share wisdom are a few of the key ingredients to making a lasting impact in the field.
Notable insights from powerful women in real estate
Along with Susan and Daryl, there are several inspiring women Realtors who have risen to prominence in the industry. They’ve shared their unique experiences and strategies—which are not only beneficial to women in real estate but can also provide valuable insights for everyone.
The importance of networking
Networking paves the way for new opportunities, relationships, and partnerships. Neda Navab, the US President of Compass, is a powerful proponent of networking as a tool for career advancement for women in real estate.
In her International Women’s Day interview, she emphasized the importance of building relationships and expanding networks, highlighting that these are fundamental to success in real estate.
“You have to invest in your community. The people you surround yourself with matter,” she said. “If you want to do extraordinary things, you’ve got to surround yourself with extraordinary people. It’s as simple as that.”
The role of mentorship for women
A real estate mentor can help accelerate career progression and provide an opportunity to gain insight into how to navigate industry-specific challenges. Julia Lashay Israel, Head of Inclusion and Belonging at Keller Williams Realty International, is an advocate of mentorship opportunities.
After receiving life-changing support, she co-founded Refocus University, a real estate training firm that focuses on career development and diversity. Her successful career proves that having mentors can not only significantly contribute to one’s professional growth, but also the future of an industry.
Technology and women in real estate
Real estate is no longer just about brick-and-mortar properties. It’s also about embracing technology and digital platforms, revolutionizing how business is done in the realty space.
Jade Mills, the President of Jade Mills Estates, is an example of a tech-savvy woman in real estate who has effectively leveraged technology to her advantage. With the help of Luxury Presence, she has amplified her business, showcasing the importance of technology in real estate.
“People always tell me how beautiful my site is, and my clients love how beautifully their properties are displayed,” she says. “My website has been a pivotal part of my brand, and it has been an incredibly effective way to get new clients.”
The power of skill development
Continuous skill development is pivotal to staying ahead in any industry. This is especially true in real estate, where market trends constantly and quickly evolve.
Dawn McKenna, the CEO of Dawn McKenna Group, is a role model in real estate who showcases how to consistently learn and develop new skills. She used feedback from her clients and her experience with failure as a learning opportunity, eventually becoming a female Realtor with half a billion in luxury real estate sales annually.
These strategies, championed by fellow women Realtors, provide up-and-coming agents with the knowledge and strategies to forge their way through the industry. These women are leading by example, demonstrating firsthand the importance of networking, mentorship, leveraging technology, and developing their skills on their own path to success.
How companies, organizations, and allies can positively impact women in real estate
Industry-leading firms and associations are not only acknowledging the challenges faced by women in real estate but are also implementing concrete solutions. Here are some examples:
Companies creating change internally
Real estate companies are fostering environments that are conducive to the growth and development of women. Many are now offering agent mentorship programs, clear managerial tracks, and continual learning opportunities, all of which can help women in real estate reach their full potential.
Building organizations around women’s development
Specific organizations focused on the development and inclusion of women in real estate are also essential to changing the environment within the industry. These types of communities can help with specific growth opportunities like personal brand building for women in real estate or peer mentorship programs.
One great example is the Women’s Council of Realtors, a community of thriving professionals that provides resources and opportunities for growth while promoting diversity and empowering women.
The importance of male allyship
Let’s not forget the important role of male allies when it comes to supporting women in real estate. Working together is one of the strongest ways to overcome the challenges that are seen within the industry.
For example, men in influential or leadership positions can use their platforms to advocate for women’s rights and equality. They can also collaborate with their female counterparts to create a more balanced and fair workplace within their own organizations.
Every small step inside an organization, every support network for women Realtors, and every ally contributes to the larger goal. Both men and women must continue contributing to this effort, fostering a more equitable environment where everyone has an equal chance to succeed.
Working toward a more inclusive industry
The growth of women in real estate serves as a reminder that industries can evolve and diversity is not only beneficial but essential for progress. More importantly, it highlights that the future of real estate is promising and moving in the right direction.
Even as we celebrate the growth of women in real estate and appreciate their contributions, it’s also important to aim for even more inclusivity and innovation.
In line with this vision, Luxury Presence is an innovative platform dedicated to helping you build your real estate business and grow your online presence. Reach out to us today, and you’ll get to be part of an inclusive community and gain access to an array of resources that can help you excel in your career.