“It’s still pretty nichey, so if you don’t know people in the business you might not know there are opportunities,” says Jeff Brown, a broker with Colliers International in Ottawa, adding there are only about 50 agents in the Ottawa area who focus exclusively on commercial real estate. “It’s a small industry… [and] that old boys’ club is eroding rapidly.”
The commercial side of the industry, where many deals are done privately, continues to be a male-heavy subsector of real estate, though that is quickly increasingly changing as a wide variety of positions in the industry, as well as many women-focused networks, create more entry points into the commercial realm.
“Historically I think it was a male-heavy industry,” says Alexandra Cozart, a commercial-focused agent with Colliers International. “However, more and more throughout the years the amount of women in the business has been picking up, slowly but surely.”
Lisa Patel, an agent who works in both the residential and commercial fields, says female sales reps, like their male counterparts, need to be persistent and work to disprove any stereotypes they face.
“Learn the different segments showcase your talents,” she says. “That’s really what’s going to take you further. It’s a wonderful industry and there’s a lot of money to be made but the challenge is getting through some of those barriers.”
Cozart says female agents should use the strengths that come naturally to them – “We’re typically very organized, we can see the big picture while not missing the small details, we’re very vocal and empathetic,” she says. “Use our natural qualities as an advantage.”
Still, there is ground to be made up by females on the commercial side, with CMP’s top commercial brokers by volume made up of eight men and only two women.
Women are cracking through the last of the industry’s glass ceilings but still have a ways to go, say industry players pointing to the increasingly competitive nature of that segment of the market.