At Follow Up Boss, we’re celebrating National Women’s History Month… with a twist.
Instead of talking about the many vast accomplishments of women in real estate (seriously, we’d need an entire book), we asked some of the most accomplished women we know to boil down their best advice or current perspective on the role of women in real estate to just five words.
But before we get to the good stuff, we should point out that, unlike most other professions, women dominate the world of real estate.
In fact, according to the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR), women account for 64% of all realtors.
Not only that, but nine of the top 20 individual agents in the country are women. And according to the RealTrends + Tom Ferry annual awards ranking, The Thousand, female agents comprised just under half of the top 250 agents in the nation in 2021.
Clearly, the ladies are killing it. 💪🏻
Our experts told us that while nature does play a role, great agents aren’t born that way. Successful agents develop and nurture both their natural abilities and other learned skills in order to progress and rise to the top — and women are exceptionally well-positioned to get there.
Here’s what our experts had to say about the current state of women in real estate, plus their best tips for real estate’s women of the future.
Real estate was made for us
Recent research shows that women are natural initiative-takers and collaborators, who also excel at listening.
“Women entering real estate for the first time need to know this business was made for them in both their unique abilities to solve problems and think creatively, as well as in the flexibility the work holds as they fulfill the other obligations in their lives,” says Donna Stott, owner and broker at Northwest Atlanta Properties, and Inman top 25 coach with Your Coaching Matters.
To narrow it down to five words, Donna believes women are:
“Leading in solution-based conversations.”
And that’s never mattered more than it does today.
In many markets across North America, the real estate landscape is challenging to say the least.
The ability to listen deeply, then move immediately to problem-solving is what makes many women in real estate so darn good at what they do. Women have an uncanny ability to connect, relate to their customers, and focus on finding a solution in a way that builds lasting trust.
While women may have natural leadership abilities that inherently lend themselves to a successful career in real estate, our experts were clear on one thing:
If you really want to win in this industry, you’re also going to need a whole lot of grit, determination, and good old-fashioned focus.
They point out that real estate agents don’t just need successful strategies — they need a winning mindset.
Jan O’Brien, team leader at Celtic Realty, consultant, coach, trainer, and the co-founder of real estate podcast Wandering But Not Lost, says the best agents provide value by giving customers the information they need to make informed decisions.
“Know and leverage your value.”
“Become the local area real estate and market expert by learning and then sharing valuable content on the platform of your choice,” Jan advises.
Liz Bentley, an award-winning coach and president of Liz Bentley Associates, takes this idea one step further.
“Command respect, be an expert, exude confidence.”
She believes that by taking ownership of the value they provide, women can gain a decided advantage over their competition.
“We've seen a widening of the pay gap between women and men in real estate because men are more aggressive about not reducing commissions, not giving in on financial requests, and asking for more,” Liz explains.
Women should be taking a page from that playbook.
Shannon Milligan, who founded the RVA Home Team echoes that sentiment.
Shannon keeps her advice simple and to the point:
“Know your worth.”
She also recommends keeping a healthy detachment from the work.
“Remember your role in this business: you are a transaction facilitator; you are not part of the transaction,” explains Shannon. “Too many agents take everything personally when we are just the guide.”
Forge your own path
There’s a reason coaching and mentorship is such a big deal in real estate.
It takes a lot to win. Who wouldn’t want to learn from the experience of someone who’s already been there and done it?
As a woman (or really, anyone) in real estate, it can be tempting to follow the path most traveled — new agents especially might be tempted to copy the strategies and techniques of more experienced agents.
But experts like Dr. Lee Davenport, Strategic Coaching Advisor at Real Estate Bees, and a nationally-known Inman top 25 real estate coach, author and international speaker, says female agents should remember that no two agents are the same.
“I have found — from my doctoral research, studying some of the nation's top producers and my years of coaching many top agents — that you do not have to mimic ‘Sally Salesalot’ (that's how I refer to whoever the top producing agent in your area is),” Lee explains.
The way she sees it, women in real estate need to first look inward in order to:
“Profit with your own personality.”
Because, let’s be honest. Not everyone is cut out for cold calling, door knocking or any of the tried-and-true methods other agents employ.
“You, with your unique viewpoint, interests and skills, can (and frankly, must) use your specific strengths to generate and grow your business,” Lee says. “The key is first discovering what your sales strengths are and then learning to play to those strengths.”
Find a mentor or coach, but do it your way
Anyone who’s had one knows that mentors can be invaluable.
A great mentor will help you learn from their experience while providing guidance and acting as a sounding board when you’re in the process of making tough decisions.
But agents, especially those who identify as women, often come into the profession as a second, or even third career. If that’s you, never forget that this experience means you bring a unique skill set to the table — one that should never be underestimated.
As Leigh Brown, best-selling author, coach, and broker/owner of One Community Real Estate sees it, learning to rely on your own skills, experiences, and abilities is just as valuable as following in someone else’s footsteps.
To put it into five simple words? Leigh says:
“Own the skin you’re in.”
“Your story — your life journey, past jobs and roles and skills — all matter,” says Leigh. “Find someone to be your mentor (acknowledged or not — all of us are likely mentoring someone by proxy), take what they do well, and put your own spin on it.”
And let’s not forget that we all want different things.
Nicole Beauchamp, Associate Real Estate Broker at Engel & Volkers in New York City, says women need to make their own way, not only according to their unique strengths, but also based on their own personal and professional goals.
“It is very easy to constantly compare yourself to everything that you see, particularly online,” Nicole says.
But what really matters is achieving your personal best, not someone else’s. Her formula?
“Find a mentor and define what success means for you.”
Award-winning broker, Nicole has carved out her career and successes from many different interests. She makes time to contribute to media outlets like the New York Times and serve as a volunteer leader for a number of real estate industry organizations. She's also a classically trained musician with a passion for supporting the arts.
Remember, it’s only business
Despite their many innate leadership abilities, many women have been conditioned to take rejection personally.
Julia Hurley, a realtor with Just Homes Group in Knoxville, TN, says it’s important to:
“Learn how to LOVE rejection.”
“Stop taking things personally,” says Julia. “Learn to accept people for who THEY are, not who you want them to be.”
As a certified luxury property marketing specialist, who ranks third in the country for relocations, Julia also cautions that there’s no room in the business today for pushy salespeople.
“Take language of sales classes,” she says. “Remember, this is selling, not telling. Relate first, sell after.”
Own your role as an entrepreneur
These days, it takes a heck of a lot more than sales skills to sell a home.
Real estate agents have to be:
- Marketing mavens to generate leads, identify listings and build a client base.
- Business analysts to figure out which strategies are producing the best ROI.
- Public relations pros to get recognized within the community.
- And so, so much more.
With all that to tackle, realtors need to think of themselves, not just as sales people, but as business owners.
“You are opening your own business, not just selling real estate,” says Carla Cross, Strategic Real Estate Advisor at Real Estate Bees, and an international speaker, trainer, and real estate coach.
“Be exceptional leaders through collaboration.”
As the author of seven books on real estate, Carla knows what she’s talking about. Her own success story began when she ranked among the top 10 agents in her 400-person company after just three years in the business.
She understands what it means to be a business owner. And as an entrepreneur, you’re never really working alone. You’re collaborating with clients, team members and your entire community to help deliver results that benefit everyone.
Rise to the challenge
You’ve probably heard the expression, “Nothing worthwhile comes easy.”
Count real estate among the things that take time and effort to master.
Dolly Lenz, founder and CEO of Dolly Lenz Real Estate LLC, a luxury real estate consulting, sales and marketing firm, has sold more than $12 billion in property throughout her career.
And she’ll be the first to tell you, it ain’t easy.
“Unlike what you see on TV, real estate is not an easy profession,” says Dolly, a regular guest on shows like CNBC’s Power Lunch, Kudlow Report and Fox News with Neil Cavuto.
“Never back down from a challenge.”
And she’s not one to mince words. “If you are not prepared to go out and make things happen and outwork your competition, you'll likely not get very far in this business,” she says.
She also believes that new agents should have a plan for riding out their first year in the business.
Set yourself apart
Lynn Pineda, a Realtor with eXp Realty in Southeast Florida, knows it’s not easy for new agents to set themselves apart from the competition. Nevertheless, she says, it’s essential.
“Setting yourself apart as a new agent is critically important when you feel it’s tough to compete with the experienced agent,” Lynn says. What’s most important is to remember that:
“Perseverance will get you there.”
Lynn speaks from experience when she says blogging is one way agents can establish their point of difference.
The large library of posts on her website run the gamut from How to Get Your Bathroom Ready When Selling a Home to I Found a Home to Buy—How Much Money Do I Offer.
“Setting up your own blog on your own site is all about getting found by the masses; people who want to buy and sell homes, along with other agents who have referrals to pass to agents in your neck of the woods,” Lynn says.
Lynn says her advice goes for new agents too. Newbies might not start out with the same arsenal of information, but they can write from their own experience.
Never give up
Last, but not least, our experts want the women who are newer to the game to know that they’ve got a learning curve ahead of them, and that’s ok.
Making mistakes is part of the process.
Amy Youngren is founder and sales representative at Keller Williams Real Estate Associates North Group Brokerage in Toronto, an award-winning broker that ranks in the top 1% on the Toronto Real Estate Board.
Amy says women who are new to the game of real estate should be prepared to:
“Fail forward fast and often.”
“Find a mentor, team leader, or coach who operates a business that you want to model, and align yourself with that person,” Amy says. “Lean into accountability and master consistency in the basics of the business.”
“And most of all, don’t give up no matter how hard it gets.”