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Although many perceive real estate as a male-dominated business, the National Association of Realtors’ most recent member survey showed the majority of the nation’s Realtors are women (65 percent) — and their presence is poised to keep growing as the Great Resignation inspires more women to find success in the industry.
Despite outnumbering their male counterparts, leading real estate brokers Katie Kossev, Jessica Edwards, and Kye Sampson said women still have a tough climb up the entrepreneurial ladder, thanks to stereotypes regarding women’s business acumen and the challenge of successfully balancing work and family.
“I think a lot of us got into the business because we thought this career path would give us the flexibility to spend more time with our family and go on trips, and just some extra money here and there,” said Kossev, who moderated the session. “And then we got good at it, right? Sometimes [our job] completely dominates [our] life, and vacations and spending time with [our families] may go to the wayside accidentally because we are so deeply enthralled in what we do.”
Edwards and Sampson said they’ve grappled with maintaining flexibility over the years, especially after getting married and becoming mothers. Both women said they’ve had to leave the dinner table to answer frantic phone calls from clients, make other arrangements for their children to be picked up from school, or attend events late.
“I think there can be some flexibility in real estate, depending on what you want to get out of it,” Sampson said. “If you’re in a leadership role, you may have to step away from that dinner and you might have to take a call.”
However, both panelists said the coronavirus offered the precious opportunity to slow down, rethink their priorities and create a business structure that enables them to maintain a high level of service to their clients while reserving time to fully enjoy the fruits of their labor.
“Success is having that peace of mind and that happiness across the board. It’s about life balance,” Edwards said. “COVID, for me, had some positives to it. Myself and my team members, we’re all moms. I think it was interesting to be able to have things slow down a bit and spend more time with kids and realize, ‘Oh, you know, I can pick them up from school.’”
“Sometimes it’s a constant challenge, depending on what’s going on,” she added. “But it just really [comes down to] scheduling and really planning things out to the best of your ability and of course, that doesn’t always work.”
Beyond daily scheduling and planning, Sampson said she’s learned to embrace the natural ebb and flow of life and adjust her business approach to complement her family’s needs.
“I have a three-year-old and I had a full team prior. After I had my kid, I let my team down. I scaled back because I wanted to spend more time with my kid,” she said. “Now that he’s three and a half [and going] to school, I restarted my team. So I think it’s all about scheduling and [determining] what you are trying to get out of it. So I don’t know if there’s ever a complete balance.”
Although being a woman in real estate has its challenges, Kossev, Edwards and Sampson said they’ve learned to wield their strengths as women, especially when it comes to mastering multitasking and using emotional intelligence to connect with current and potential buyers and sellers.
“I think some women may not want to hear this, but we’re able to view the emotional side of things,” Edwards said. “I think women [aren’t] necessarily more emotional overall, but maybe we’re just more in tune with emotions and buying or selling a home, especially right now, is an emotional process. It always is.”
“For buyers [with] multiple offers missing out, it can be frustrating,” she added. “Having that nurturing side or being able to have that calmness and be in tune with our clients’ emotions is a huge piece to [the] women versus men [debate], if you will.”
Meanwhile, Sampson highlighted women’s ability to multitask and pay attention to details as a valuable asset that some people may undervalue. “As women, we’re so used to wearing so many different hats,” she said. “We also have our attention to detail.”
Now that the market has reached a fever pitch leading into spring, both women said there’s pressure to jump on the latest trends and begin overpacking their schedules again. “I think video is so important, but TikTok reels are not for everyone,” Edwards laughingly said of the temptation to be present on every platform.
Simpson agreed and chimed in, “It’s about being intentional [and] you don’t have to compete with everyone online. If you don’t like to be in front of the camera, maybe start touring the houses and recording the houses instead of being on camera.”
Finally, all three women encouraged session viewers — especially their fellow women — to remain nimble, reject fear and embrace changes in their personal and business lives.
“I had a conversation with somebody a couple of months ago and it was a lightbulb moment. It was it’s okay that maybe your business and life and everything doesn’t look like it did before COVID,” Edwards said. “I think it’s okay if you don’t feel that intensity like you used to. It’s [about] accepting it and then channeling that into how you’re going to work differently and what it’s going to look like.”