THE REAL ESTATE INDUSTRY OFFERS EXCEPTIONAL CAREERS FOR WOMEN, PARTICULARLY WOMEN WANTING TO MAKE AN IMPACT IN THEIR COMMUNITIES WHILE CONNECTING WITH PEOPLE. A CAREER IN REAL ESTATE OFTEN COMBINES PERSONAL INTERACTION, SALES, INTEGRITY AND BUSINESS SKILLS. REAL ESTATE IS A SERVICE INDUSTRY THAT REQUIRES CURRENT SKILLS, LEARNING ABOUT THE REAL ESTATE FIELD
While many first think of real estate agents when considering the industry, there are numerous other careers in real estate. Appraisers, inspectors, loan officers and attorneys, just to name a few, are essential to the transaction.
Real Estate Agent
Guiding a client through the home buying or selling process is the general job description of a real estate agent. The career focuses on helping people and getting to know what clients want to achieve by buying or selling property. Real estate agents help buyers find the perfect home and sellers find the right buyer. It is through agents or attorneys that buyers and sellers work out agreements for a property.
“Guide” doesn’t convey the true depth of the partnership between a real estate agent and her client, however. The real estate agent’s role is service before, during and after the sale. The career involves juggling many moving parts, emotions and even friendships. Building a strong relationship and trust is essential.
Life changes such as divorce, death, retirement or a newly empty nest can have a huge impact on where a client calls home, and there are often strong emotions associated. Real estate agents help clients work through these emotions. The personal connection, often unexpected to newcomers in the field, is genuine and deep. “Helping people through and balancing waves of feelings, being a guide, a listener and a partner. That’s our job,” says Wendy Byers of Edina Realty in Rochester. She adds that real estate agents “are there throughout the process and help (clients) make their house a home. It’s not a place to eat and sleep. It’s where lives happen.”
As a real estate agent, no two days are the same. Adaptability and strong relationship building is key. The career demands strong organizational skills and the ability to juggle work and personal responsibilities fluently. Being a good listener, observer and communicator is critical. “Clients need to feel informed and confident every step of the way,” says Byers, “I am their partner and advocate before, during and after the sale.” For many real estate agents, it’s a humbling feeling to be part of such a major event in the lives of their clients.
Women in Title
After real estate agents have connected the perfect buyer and seller and an agreement is in place, the title team enters. The focus of the title team is to finalize the transaction and ensure the title of the property is clear. Unpaid taxes, assessments or other issues related to the property must be resolved. Surveyors painstakingly measure and document the property. Then the detective work begins.
An examiner collects and reviews all historical documents of the property and makes sure the buyers are aware of every inch of it. Are there any easements? Do the fences truly represent the property lines? Is the title clear? The search can stretch back to the 1800s. The title folks make sure everyone understands and agrees to what is being purchased. They register the sale with the county and state, while attorneys ensure the transaction is legal.
Like the rest of the industry, working in title is all about people. Behind the scenes, employees get to be part of the tears, either happy or sad. According to Sheila Thorson, director of business development at Rochester Title, women in title “are vibrant caregivers morphing to be what the client needs.” Thorson’s passion is evident as she explains that “every customer is the most important customer. We get them to the next step, keep focus and get them to the finish line. The sale is not just a transaction. It’s people’s lives.”
What does it take to be part of the title team? Flexibility and being detail oriented are critical characteristics. Those in title are good with people and able to make real connections. Teaching and educating clients are surprising components of the roles in title.
Women in Mortgage
In addition to the people component of real estate, there is, of course, a large financial element. For most buyers, their home is the most expensive buying decision they will make in their lifetime. The customer’s bank works closely with title and real estate agents to manage the financial aspect of the sale.
The customer’s bank team continues the personal touch of the real estate industry and provides individual service to save customers as much money as possible on their loan. “Loan processors and assistants seek to make the financial arm of real estate easy and as painless for their customers as possible,” says Amy Ross, loan assistant at Rochester’s Foresight Bank. Lending staff and credit analysts can help with prior approval for a mortgage to assist customers with determining their price range even before the buyer connects with their real estate agent.
Changing interest rates and loan offerings can create a confusing landscape for buyers. Loan staff guide customers in financing and loan selection and help customers find the right loan fit. The loan staff also answers questions, assists with insurance and manages the transfer of payment from buyer to seller. Additionally, the mortgage team helps coordinate necessary property appraisals to review the value of the property. They also manage escrow. Compliance reviewers make sure everything is in line with current rules and regulations. Loan processors and assistants oversee the closing to help the buyer through the process and remain as the customer’s contact for any questions or issues with the loan.
To be successful in the mortgage arm of the real estate industry one needs the ability to multitask, work well with others and troubleshoot. Critical thinking is essential, as well as be flexible. Customer service and truly knowing the customer cannot be overstated. According to Ross, it is the personal touch that keeps customers loyal and sets lenders apart. Ross loves the variety of duties and “the feeling of being part of a process that helps customers acquire their dreams.”
Real Estate in Their Words
A genuine desire to help people is intertwined throughout the real estate industry. Women with teamwork skills, a people-focus and a strong work ethic can thrive in the real estate industry. Ross notes that her job is “about teamwork between co-workers and others in the industry. It’s everyone working together for our customers.”
“It’s the most challenging and rewarding job I’ve ever had,” says Byers who has been a real estate agent for two years after owning a gift and home decor store in Rochester for 16 years and working as a corporate buyer for a big box retailer.
The real estate industry is quite welcoming to women and women are loyal to real estate. “Once people get into the industry their passion is often ignited and they stay in the industry,” says Thorson who has spent 22 years in various roles of real estate herself. She adds, “You get to be part of someone’s American dream.”
Erin Pagel is a freelance writer living in Rochester.