Women leave their mark in all industries | News, Sports, Jobs


In March we look forward to warmer weather and the start of spring. Although we dread rolling back our clocks and losing an hour of sleep, at least we are getting more daylight.

March is also Women’s History Month, celebrating the women who have worked hard to lead the way for change and be role models for their gender. Over the past 100+ years, a lot has changed, including the role of women in society. For example, 100 years ago, many women were wives and stay-at-home moms. Today, a woman can be almost anything she wants to be: doctor, engineer or successful businesswoman. In this article, I want to focus on the history of women in real estate, their contributions, and where we are now.

Real estate was established as a legitimate business in the 1840s. Women moved from clerical/office positions in real estate to agents and brokers in the 1880s. However, for many years the profession real estate has been dominated by men.

In 1908, the National Association of Estate Agents was founded with an all-male membership. At the time, it was reported that around 3,000 female brokers were working nationwide. The NAR required its members to belong to a local council before becoming a member of the NAR. However, most local real estate boards have banned women from joining or serving on their boards.

To combat this problem, women real estate agents and brokers formed their own organization in 1938 called the Women’s Council of Realtors. However, it would still take more than 10 years before local councils allowed women to join. Although local and NAR board membership is open to women brokers, commercial agents would not be able to join. It was not until 1973 that NAR opened its membership to commercial agents – male or female. After that, NAR membership grew from 118,000 in 1973 to 435,500 in 1975, with women making up a third of that number. In 1978, women constituted the majority of NAR members.

Over 100 years ago, real estate was a socially accepted profession for married and single women. Many women have gone into real estate to support themselves and their families. By necessity, some women became agents and brokers to break down the financial barriers that circumstances and society placed before them. And then some just wanted to do more.

One such woman was Ebby Halliday, who in the 1930s owned her own hat shop. However, she was not satisfied with owning a hat store and instead turned to real estate. It continued to dominate the residential real estate market in Dallas, Texas for decades. She worked hard and cared about the needs of others, which contributed to her success. At the time of his death in 2015, his still-operating company had closed 19,200 transactions with a sales volume of $6.64 billion.

Another was Leila Frances from Kentucky, who worked as a schoolteacher before moving to Ohio in 1943. In 1947, she became the second African-American woman to become a sales agent. After that, she became a real estate broker and ran a successful business for over 50 years. During her real estate tenure, she helped found Unity Bank and an African American mortgage company.

Next is Dorcas Helfant, best known as the first female president of the National Association of Realtors, elected in 1992. She was also the first female president of her state association. Another of his successes was a merger that brought his own real estate company with other Coldwell Banker companies.

The latest is Tracy Dodson, who is known as a pioneering woman in commercial real estate. Even now, only 35% of commercial real estate professionals are women, typically working only in property management. Dodson is vice president of brokerage and development in North Carolina for a commercial real estate company. She credits her success to her hours of hard work, choosing successful projects, and securing successful contracts.

Today, real estate professionals dominate the residential real estate market in our country. According to NAR, in 2018, 63% of all real estate agents were women. Now, women are becoming presidents of local, state, and even national associations of real estate agents. They serve on committees and boards, influencing change for fellow board members and communities. Others are involved with one of the oldest women’s real estate institutions, the Women’s Council of Realtors, helping to empower female real estate professionals in their businesses and communities. For real estate professionals in the United States, the sky is indeed the limit.

Statistics show that single women are twice as likely to buy a home as single men. According to Lending Tree’s findings, single women own more homes than single men in America’s 50 largest metropolises. More women than men are also heads of households.

It’s amazing how far we’ve come even since the mid-1970s, when women could first access a line of credit on their own to buy a home without a male co-signer. Although we have made great progress, there is still work to be done because the prejudices are still present.

Women still earn statistically less than men for the same work. Studies have shown that women are less likely to negotiate a better price or rate for their home, and even when they do, they don’t always get what they ask for.

Women of color struggle even more. One way to combat the problem is for female homebuyers to research and obtain as much information as possible and to hone their negotiation skills. As a society of legislators, bankers, real estate professionals and community members, we need to examine our thought processes and beliefs. We must see everyone as equal and entitled to the same benefits, regardless of gender, color, nationality, disability or orientation.

Marlin Palich is President of Stark Trumbull Area Realtors, which serves Stark, Carroll and Trumbull counties. Visit www.star.realtor for a complete list of Realtors and Affiliate Members.



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