Real estate is a great industry for women to work in regardless of their age, and the best opportunities are for salespeople, says broker Teresa Boardman.
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During the pandemic, we read about “the great resignation” — how some folks are reprioritizing their lives and quitting their jobs or retiring sooner than they had planned. We are not seeing a great resignation in real estate; in fact, there are more agents than ever, and more than half are female.
Between 2020 and 2021, the number of female Realtors went from 64 percent to 65 percent, and in 2022, the number of Realtors reached an all-time high at more than 1.5 million. During the same period, overall workforce participation decreased, especially among women and older workers.
Real estate is a great industry for women to work in regardless of their age. The best opportunities are for salespeople.
If someone had told me when I was in high school that I would spend more than half of my career working in sales, I would have been horrified.
I was young and didn’t know any better. It takes some of us a while to grow up. As a new college graduate, I honestly thought that I could do anything that I wanted to. My definition of success involved climbing corporate ladders because that was what we did back then.
Some of us believed we could have it all, which mostly meant being a full-time mother while having full-time employment and doing housework too. There were never enough hours in the day to worry about work-life balance.
On the job
On the job, women who had children were treated differently than men who had children. I suspect that is still true today. Success was tough, as we were constantly told that we were “too_____” and needed to be “more_____.”
If women make up more than half of the adult population, why do they make up only about 20 percent of the highest levels of corporate leadership? I take that as a sign that most companies are not good places for women to work.
A new version of success
Once I started re-focusing my energy away from office politics and bad bosses, I was able to start learning again. I had the enthusiasm and the time I needed to focus on building a business. I looked forward to working. Each day was new and different.
It didn’t take me long to learn the relationship between selling a house and making money. I am not sure I fully understood what it was I did at my last job, and it was hard to see the relationship between the amount of work and the amount of pay.
When I worked as a W-type employee, I was downsized or outsourced or fired a few times. Sometimes it was through no fault of my own, and other times, I didn’t follow the rules and failed to conform. I was always a misfit.
When I started my own company, I did so partly because It seemed like the next logical step, and I needed a plan for the future. There is no retirement age for salespeople or for entrepreneurs, and there isn’t any age discrimination either.
I have experience and skills and options and ideas and am not limited to working for or with a single client or company.
Opportunity for all
Salespeople don’t need a bureaucracy or hierarchy and can work as a team or alone. A career in real estate sales offers opportunities for women to step outside the patriarchy and be the best they can be. Some of the most successful salespeople I know do not have college degrees or come from wealthy families.
Being self-employed is empowering, and so is working on a 100 percent commission basis. The trick is to get past the fear of working without a steady paycheck. There really isn’t such a thing as job security, and that is what is needed for a steady paycheck.
Women do well in real estate sales, but it isn’t a good fit for all women. It takes a special kind of person. Successful agents can, and do, manage themselves.
It takes motivation, excellent communication skills, persistence, hard work and a little luck. It also helps to be able to handle rejection, disappointments and an occasional nut job — and move on.
There is no glass ceiling, and earning potential is unlimited. An agent who sells real estate is always a good fit in any real estate company, and they are always hiring. There isn’t any reason to stay with a company that provides a toxic culture or workplace.
Sales skills are easily transferable and always in demand inside and outside of the industry. Nothing happens until a sale is made.
Most real estate agents are self-employed and part of the “gig” economy. Selling residential real estate is a great way to earn a living for women and for men. The freedom alone can bring job satisfaction, and there is always room for more real estate agents.
Teresa Boardman is a Realtor and broker/owner of Boardman Realty in St. Paul, Minnesota. She is also the founder of StPaulRealEstateBlog.com.