Written by Anita Butcher
Anita is a final year journalism student at the University of South Australia.
With a passion for community and local events, you can hear Anita on your airwaves, working for some of Adelaide’s most prominent community radio stations – Radio Adelaide, Fresh FM and Three D radio.
Anita has a keen interest in different cultures, being of Latvian heritage herself. She teaches at the Latvian school of Adelaide, regularly emcees events for the Latvian community and dances with folk dancing group, Auseklītis.
Interview: Adelaide’s Growing Number of Female Agents
Bronwyn Drabsch: Principal, Ray White Plympton
Elle Griffiths: Principal, Ray White Two Wells
Jasmin Hodder: Sales Consultant, Sandra Berry Real Estate
Silvia Josopovic: Sales Partner and Business & Marketing Manager, Harcourts Property
Tracy Parham: Principal, Ray White Two Wells
Real estate is often seen as a male-dominated industry, however, females actually make up 55% of all those employed! The face of real estate is changing, while the number of women getting involved in the industry is growing rapidly.
I spoke to five different women with various backgrounds and experience in the South Australian real estate industry for their opinions on the changing face of the industry.
AB: What are some of your biggest challenges as a woman in real estate?
Jasmin: There are always going to be challenges in any industry as a woman, I believe no matter if you are a woman or a man, it’s challenging regardless.
Bronwyn: Not necessarily just as a woman, but a big challenge is getting the work-life balance right, and I think that’s no different whether you’re male or female. I’m probably a bit different to a lot of women [in the industry], as my husband was quite supportive when I started the whole thing, but I think it was probably a challenge for him as much as anything. Before I started in real estate, he was always working for himself with a good income and everything like that, but I think it’s a bit of an ego thing for the men, it’s hard for them to deal with the wife earning more money and that kind of thing. So I think it’s just getting that balance of work-life right! We are separated now so I don’t know if I got that sorted (laughing) but [the industry] can be tough on a relationship at the level I want to be at, I always strive to do my best, and that obviously comes at a price. I put a lot of time into it.
Silvia: The challenges I face are more so to do with my age, especially the area I was working with when I started – I was an independent selling agent, and the demographic [of clients] was mostly 45-55 year olds. So you’d go out to a property and as soon as they saw you face to face, you could see their face drop and think “Oh my god, you’re young enough to be my daughter.” At the end of the day people are going to think what they’re going to think, so you just have to keep at it. But personally I haven’t really come across anyone who’s given me attitude just because I’m a woman, and I can’t really say from talking to anyone, that they’ve had that experience either. I think it’s not as bad or to the extent that it might have been 10 or 20 years ago. It’s definitely getting a lot better, and it’s been quite positive for me, from that respect.
Elle & Tracy: There’s probably benefits, if anything!
AB: What are some of the advantages of being a woman in real estate?
Jasmin: Women are often more approachable and sometimes female clients, whether they are buyers or sellers will feel more comfortable engaging female agents. Real estate offers many opportunities for women, especially women who may have children or enjoy choosing their own hours to work.
Bronwyn: I think women are more empathetic and people feel more comfortable opening up to a woman, I’ve certainly found that. There are probably a lot of guys who are also very open, but generally speaking women are a lot more empathetic.
Silvia: It’s that relationship building, [as a woman] you’re more approachable, and it’s easier to build that relationship with potential buyers and clients, and a lot easier to talk to them and find out what their situation is, what they’re willing to pay for a property and all those bits and pieces. I’ve worked alongside a lot of male agents, and I’ve found people open up a little more to me than they would to other males in the office.
Elle & Tracy: Women tend to be more sympathetic and loving and compassionate towards their vendors, and are able to talk them through the process and discuss different ideas about the house. Women have a lot more empathy than what a male has. As a female you can visualise things, turn a negative back into a positive. I think because of the hours it has always been a male dominated profession, but now we are starting to see real changes in the industry. We have a lot of positive feedback when people do come into the office.
AB: Do you think real estate is an attractive option to women thinking of making a career change?
Jasmin: Real estate is definitely an attractive career whether you are young or at a mature age in life. Working in a supportive team environment is a very important part of the industry. So if you are motivated, and willing to learn you really could make the most of the real estate industry.
Bronwyn: Yeah definitely, I think it is good. I don’t have any children, but for people with kids you can kind of work around your kids schooling and all of that kind of thing. It’s very flexible with hours – in the first few years it’s very full on, but once you’ve established yourself in a career you can certainly work around things in your life.
Silvia: Yeah absolutely. One of the good things about real estate is that there’s no glass ceiling, you can choose your income and work towards that and you can dictate your own schedule.
Elle & Tracy: Absolutely, if they’re willing to work and they’ve got supportive people around them, real estate is a great career for women. You’ve got to be very focused, consistent in your work and very disciplined. If you’ve got those three traits then you will make it.
AB: Do you think the ranks of weekend auctioneers will also begin to fill with women?
Jasmin: I hope so; there is no reason why females can’t fill the spots for weekend auctions.
I think we may see more female auctioneers in the future, which will be a very positive aspect for the industry.
Bronwyn: No I don’t. I’ve done the auctioneers course years ago, but it’s not something I decided to pursue. It’s more of a voice thing I think as well. There’s a lot of terrible male auctioneers out there, but I think you need to have a very strong powerful voice to do it, and there’s not many women who I’ve come across that have been able to do that well. I have seen some good women do it, but it’s certainly not something I would do, and I can’t see a lot of women wanting to take that on. It’s more the sales side of thing I think women are very well suited for. With negotiations, and getting people to open up to you, women are able to understand what makes someone tick and what their drivers are. I think women are better at that.
Silvia: Hopefully, I’ve only ever come across 1 female auctioneer and she’s only just started out. But it’s been predominantly male, I guess because traditionally, males are seen to be the more dominant figure.
Elle & Tracy: Yeah I think it will. Just watching that side of real estate, there has been a lot more females coming into the auctioneering, which is really good to see. And now we’ve got some really dynamic female agents, so they should just take them [the males] on!
AB: Do you have any tips or advice for women looking to get into the industry?
Jasmin: Have a plan or goal, make sure you now ‘why’ you’re coming into the industry.
Have an open mind, be willing to listen and learn. Find a Mentor or someone who is outside your office that can listen and assist you to reach your goals.
Bronwyn: Put yourself out there! You’ve got to get yourself out of your comfort zone. I think depending on what background women have come from, I mean my parents are farmers which is very much a male dominated industry, but it doesn’t have to stay like that. I think you’ve just got to believe in yourself. There’s a lot of younger Gen Y people coming through at the moment, but I also think real estate suits people when they’re older. Just getting out of your comfort zone and thinking “Yes I can do this” is so important, and not being afraid to fail. There’s a lot of rejection and it’s hard to not take that personally.
Silvia: Keep training, keep learning, and come to master the different areas of real estate, making them your own. It’s important to get a good understanding of all facets of real estate in general, so you can be across everything and come across confidently when asked something you may not otherwise know.
Elle & Tracy: It’s really interesting when you start looking at people’s lifestyles and where they come from, this previous experience can often really help women in the industry. Elle and I both come from a horsey background, which requires a lot of discipline and consistency, which can be applied to the real estate industry. You have to have a goal in place, and be consistent about it.
Who was your role model/mentor when entering the industry?
Jasmin: Lindsay Warner was the reason I got into the industry, I completed work experience with him for a week before deciding this was the right career path for me. He is a role model for young people in the industry and continues to assist with not just Schools Auction Idol but also mentoring young people within the industry to become auctioneers.
Bronwyn: Within Ray White there were a few women within our top 10 that were doing really well. I guess it’s more of a personal thing though, you find people that are doing what you want to do and you talk to them and try and see what they’re doing that you can implement yourself. I also have a lot of male role models I catch up with.
Silvia: My dad, he was very helpful in helping me get started. He came from overseas at a very young age and he worked really hard and got into the industry, and did very well. He’s probably one of the very few people that actually know everything there is to know. A lot of women in the industry (and at Harcourts) are also doing really well, so they help me out too.
Elle: Tracy trained me, so I had a pretty good role model! I also had an older gentleman at my previous office who took me under his wing.
Tracy: I was really open minded and just listened to everyone regardless of how long they’ve been in the industry for, and just took on their advice. I picked what worked for me, and what I was hoping to achieve. In real estate, things are changing and you’re always learning, and there’s some really great teachers/mentors out there.
AB: What do you hope to see for the future of women in the industry?
Jasmin: I hope to see more women in the industry, I hope to see more young women in particular, and I hope to see more females stay in the industry.
Bronwyn: Probably a lot more. It’s even still the same in our group, we’ve got a lot of women but you look at the top highest achieving sales people and most of them are men, so it would be good to see a lot more women up there. And with me, because I do own the business, I know very few women that are actually business owners, apart from being husband & wife couples. So that’s something where I would love to find someone who’s doing what I’m doing. Because it is a real juggle when you’re doing it on your own, not so much as a woman even, but also not having a business partner, it can be lonely at the top. But definitely would be great to see more women achieving more.
Silvia: Hopefully there’s a lot more women in the future. It’s still very male dominated, but a sign of the times perhaps, is that there are more consistently more successful woman in the industry. Hopefully there’s just that consistency. Harcourts have just begun a bit of a women’s inspiration group which I think is really valuable for the future of women in the real estate industry.
Elle: When I did my course, coming from the country, a few of the city boys said to me “Good luck out there with the country bumpkins”, and i just thought…game on! If the new girls coming into the industry want something bad enough, then they can do it!
Tracy: A lot more! If real estate was easy then everyone would be doing it, and they’re just not. I guess because there’s not that quick gratification, you just have to stay focused, and achieve in bite-sizes of achievement and it will happen.
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