#IWD2021 The History Of Women In Real Estate

women in real estate

Happy International Womens Day, 2021 from myself, and everyone here at CHEM.digital. Here’s a little history of women in real estate. If you didn’t already know – women domainate the real estate industry.

Why Most Real Estate Agents Are Women

Women In Real Estate: The Numbers

According to the National Association of Realtors, as of May 2018, 63 percent of all Realtors are female. A 2011 Trulia study found that there are more women real estate professionals in every state than male real estate professionals. In some states, like South Dakota and Nebraska, there are roughly 48 percent more female real estate agents and brokers than there are male. In states like Oklahoma and Mississippi—which Trulia claims is the number one female-dominated real estate industry in the nation—that number jumps up to 64 percent.

It wasn’t always that way

However, women weren’t always dominant in selling homes. According to NAR’s history of women in Real Estate, when the association first started in 1908, its membership was entirely male, despite 3,000 women working as brokers nationally. Their first female member, Corrine Simpson, a broker from Seattle, Washington, wouldn’t join until 1910.

Women Became Brokers Out Of The Requirement For Them To Start Earning, Not For The Love Of Selling Homes.

Women didn’t become brokers in the early 20th century just because they loved selling homes. Like women across history, the earliest women became brokers due to exigencies that required them to earn money for their families, writes Jeffrey M. Hornstein in his book “A Nation of Realtors®: A Cultural History of the Twentieth-Century American Middle Class.” It just so happened that, during this time, new white collar office jobs flooded the market due to advances in technology—jobs that seemed “safer” for women to hold than those on the factory floor. Additionally, prevailing ideas of the time made selling homes a socially-acceptable job for women: “business maternalism,” the idea that business could be benefitted by women’s moral and nurturing flair as well as their knowledge of all things domestic, and “liberal individualism,” the “radical” idea that women were just as capable as men were. Since women owned the home, it made sense that they could sell them (or, in some cases, helped men sell them.)

Some Local Realtor Associations Banned Women From Joining

And though organizations like NAR didn’t explicitly ban women from joining, organizations did require local real estate board membership, and these boards did explicitly ban women. So, just like so many times in history, women decided to create their own professional organizations, like the Portland “Realyettes.”

Then The Great Depression Stunted Progress

Unfortunately, The Great Depression halted women’s progress in the industry for a decade. Hornstein writes that about two-thirds of female brokers left the field between 1930 and 1940.

So Women Realtors Doubled-down

However, in the 1940s, women doubled down that only women had the “established role as guardians of the virtue of the republic through protection of the homes,” thus justifying their claim as home sellers. Women held these positions post-World War II, taking advantage of the influx of new single family homes being built in the suburbs and the corresponding increase in homeownership following the establishment of VA-loans. (Sadly, women real estate agents were also a major lobbying driving force against widespread public housing!) ADVERTISING

As women in the workplace gained political clout through the women’s liberation movement, they gained more opportunities in real estate. In 1973, NAR extended membership from exclusively brokers to sales agents, which made many eligible for membership. By 1978, the majority of NAR members were women. By 1980, almost 300,000 women were real estate agents, making up 45 percent of the industry.

So why do modern-day women remain so drawn to residential real estate?

Largely the same reasons they did in the 1920s: According to those in the industry, life as a residential real estate agent provides one of the most flexible schedules for families, good earning potential, and a relatively low barrier to entry. It remains a great option for women looking for a career change or part-time second job.

Additionally, though women often excel in residential real estate, they’re still largely shut out of commercial real estate. According to a 2015 study from the Commercial Real Estate Women (CREW) Network, only 23 percent of leasing and sales brokers in the U.S. were women. Additionally, women working in commercial real estate face sexual harassment, wage disparity, and unequal opportunities with male peers.

It’s a great time to be in real estate; as a woman

It’s a great time to be in real estate; as a woman, it’s more collaborative than ever, citing the Women’s Council of Realtors and the Woman Up! conference: “Women are empowering each other more than ever: Find a great mentor, find a great team leader, find a great broker, and listen to them—they’re only going to help you get there quicker.”

Happy International Womens Day! #IWD2021

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