This Women’s History Month, we’re sharing insights from three influential business owners who call Weichert family.
Careers in residential real estate have always been a draw for women seeking opportunities as agents, brokers, and business leaders. And today, female brokers and agents make up a solid portion of the industry. Currently, 64% of REALTORS® are female—a number that continues to increase year over year. As this demographic segment grows, so will its leadership and influence.
We sat down with three smart, savvy Weichert women to hear about their experiences as leaders and brokerage owners. Karen Ryan, Brenda Elliott, and Kim Smith are long-time members of the Weichert family who have achieved great success in their local markets.
Finding success in a historically male industry
Although the number of women in real estate is growing, the historically male industry still comes with challenges that are uniquely female, such as juggling work and family responsibilities, overcoming stereotypes, and dealing with a persistent pay gap.
“Women are challenged in the industry by historical gender stereotypes,” said Karen Ryan. “There is a long way to go, but we will get there through mentorship and helping the next generation of women leaders in the industry.”
For Brenda Elliott, thriving as a female brokerage owner boils down to perspective. “There are a lot of things I cannot control in this business, but the one thing I can control is how hard I’m willing to work to reach the goals I set for my company.”
She adds, “It’s important to look at the business from a holistic approach and design a structure that can be successful and profitable, then fill roles with the talent that is best.” As opportunities continue to expand for today’s women in real estate, the right mindset—and a good mentor—can help propel agents into business owners and industry leaders.
Facing the challenges of a demanding profession
Being a broker/owner isn’t easy. You need to have a constant pulse on the market, be prepared for unexpected shifts, and establish a strong brand presence in your local market. You have the added responsibility of training your agents, cultivating leadership experience, and learning to remain agile and resilient in the face of unpredictability.
The way Brenda Elliott sees it, inevitable market shifts can be viewed as an unexpected force for good. “The biggest challenges I face in the real estate industry are also the biggest opportunities. This business and the present market constantly change, so we must constantly adapt. It’s important that I stay current and educated on the business and market so that I can educate agents who have trusted me with their futures.”
The years around the Great Recession were a notable period of uncertainty for Karen Ryan’s team. “I feel that the 2007 challenge made us stronger and more resilient as a company—knowing that we can get through a time like that and come through it together, stronger.”
Sometimes, the greatest difficulty is simply taking the first steps to gain experience and start building a career. “I started as a real estate agent at a very young age, so it was extra challenging to be trusted as a professional. I began taking classes and earning designations so that the public and my peers knew I was educated in the field,” said Kim Smith.
Running a brokerage in today’s market
Going into selling season this year, the market is still booming, but inventory is low. Brenda Elliott said, “The challenge this selling season is the competitive nature of the market. All parties need to acknowledge that this is a market unlike any other we’ve experienced, but there are definite opportunities for those who are patient.”
“Right now, listing inventory is the biggest challenge,” Kim Smith added, “Sellers do not want to list because they have nowhere to go.” Through market ups and downs, it’s up to brokers to help teams stay focused on their clients, provide exceptional service, and connect through relationships, technology, and direct marketing.
And as more women become brokerage owners, they can help unlock opportunities for other women. “It means a lot to be able to run a female-owned brokerage. Four out of five office managers in our company are female and I appreciate that I’m able to assist women in reaching their leadership goals,” Karen Ryan said.
Having Weichert on their side
Setting a brokerage apart from other real estate businesses is a key driver of success. There’s so much that goes into running a thriving real estate brokerage—like building brand equity, leveraging the right tools and resources, and using the best digital marketing strategies, to name a few.
When it comes to differentiation, brokers need to strongly consider how they approach branding and networking in their local community. “How can we get our clients to their ultimate goals is the ever-present question,” Brenda Elliott said. “Weichert has helped me set my business apart from other companies by continually putting the client first.”
Similarly, Karen Ryan said, “Weichert has a caring, family feel from the corporate staff, ownership, managers, and Realtors across the country. I am proud to be a part of such an amazing franchise that truly cares about our agents, our company, and its success.”
“The listing presentation and the buyer consultation are so important in this market. It gives you the opportunity to prepare sellers and buyers on how quickly things will move and how important the sense of urgency is at this time,” said Kim Smith.
Owners’ advice for the upcoming selling season
Karen Ryan: “Always adapt and get creative. Recruit and retain your top agents.”
Brenda Elliott: “Encourage agents to stay educated and instruct them how to lead clients toward success with market knowledge.”
Kim Smith: “Knowledge is power. Stay up-to-date on all things real estate.”
Celebrating diversity and female achievement is one way to show how far the industry has come since the early days when men dominated sales and leadership while women held administrative roles. For women in real estate, the future looks more promising than ever.
“There are many powerful women in the real estate industry today. We have come a long way,” Kim Smith concluded.
If you’re interested in learning more about how Weichert can support your growing business through ever changing times, contact us to learn more about our franchising opportunities.
About the owners
Karen Ryan is Broker/Owner of Weichert, Realtors® – Coastal Properties with locations in Hilton Head Island, Bluffton, Okatie/Sun City, Beaufort, SC, and Savannah, GA. Karen has been a Weichert franchisee for 18 years.
Brenda Elliott is Managing Broker/CEO of Weichert, Realtors® – The Space Place with locations in Huntsville, AL, and Northern Alabama. Brenda has been a Weichert franchisee for 16 years.
Kim Smith is the Owner and Operator of Weichert, Realtors® – Team Metro located in Hickory, NC. Kim has been a Weichert franchisee for 16 years.