Once an industry dominated by men, real estate increasingly is attracting more and more women to its ranks and they are looking for ways to have an impact and leave their own marks on their markets.
“Playing a role in shaping cities is driving more and more women to the real estate profession,” said Sonia Savoulian, University of Southern California’s Price School of Public Policy associate director for Program in Real Estate, at the school’s Women in Real Estate Luncheon. “Women want to have a role in driving decisions for real estate development and investment.”
However, there remain challenges in wading through the social side of the real estate business. Whether it is during evening drinks, golf outings or other gatherings, a large number of deals get done outside of business hours. As a result, being “one of the guys” can require some practice.
Clare De Briere, a founder of C+C Ventures and chair of the Urban Land Institute in Los Angeles, noted that she isn’t a sports person and all the guys would sit around at lunch and talk sports.
“I started reading the sports section of the L.A. Times cover to cover,” she said. “There are things from a social standpoint that I think we’ve all had to do to engage and become one of the pack.”
For many female agents, getting to the table can mean making these types of compromises.
De Briere noted that “you open to the door so you can get to the point where you can say, ‘Hey look, let’s talk about this deal.’ And all of a sudden, it equalizes you a little bit. So practice your golf swing. Go on the fishing trip.”
Moreover, for agents with young children, after-hours networking can become nearly impossible.
Gaining friendship and mentorship of female colleagues can be key for women making their mark in real estate today.
Jessica Palmquist, senior acquisitions analyst at Clarion Partners, said she has followed that route.
“I am part of a group of real estate women professionals who meet quarterly for lunch,” Palmquist said. “It’s been a huge resource for me just because there aren’t as many women in the office.”