How the role of women in real estate is changing

Leading sales agent and auctioneer Janet Fleet explains how women are increasingly finding success beyond property management.

On 8 March, International Women’s Day recognised the successes of women across the globe.

In Australia, real estate technology providers Box+Dice is celebrating the evolving roles of women in real estate. It chose agent Janet Fleet, of Noel Jones, as an Agent of Success.

REB caught up with Ms Fleet to discuss how the role of women in real estate is changing.

“Women are constantly reinventing themselves. The real estate industry has traditionally been male-dominated, but if you look at the numbers now the split is pretty even,” the Victoria-based agent said.

Women have traditionally moved into property management, especially when they return to the workforce after having children, Ms Fleet said. However, this too is changing.

“We are starting to see more women go into sales because more women than ever are home owners as well.

“Women who go into property management might have had children, and to try and go back to work in a sales role after having a family can be a hard slog.”

In 2012, Ms Fleet made the decision to become an auctioneer. Starting out with a major franchise group, she moved to Noel Jones in 2013 and says they have been supportive of her roles as both a sales agent and an auctioneer.

“I am the only female auctioneer in the city of Whitehorse. A female auctioneer is certainly not something that you see often. It is starting to become more common, but in our marketplace there are not many female auctioneers around,” she said.

Being a female auctioneer comes with its share of challenges. While traditional training has been important, there are a few things that can only be learnt through experience.

“Out in the field, the biggest challenge for a woman is voice projection,” Ms Fleet said.

“Naturally, if a woman raises her voice the pitch changes too. When a man raises his voice, he is still on that deeper level. For me, it’s about raising my voice without screaming at people.”

While auctions can be viewed by some as a performance and a bit of street theatre, Ms Fleet takes a different approach.

“I see it as the culmination of four weeks of work on the campaign. Yes, there is the crowd on the day, but I’m looking out for all those buyers I’ve met over the course of the four weeks and I guess that’s where that service comes in,” she said.

“It is not about screaming at buyers to pull bids. It’s a different approach for a female. It’s more about assisting them to secure the property and moving the buyers' focus away from what the vendor’s expectations are. The competition is among the buyers, not the buyers versus the vendor.”

Some agencies still bring in external auctioneers to sell a home, but Ms Fleet believes this loses the vital connection between the auctioneer and bidders.

Saturday is the big day for most real estate agents and Ms Fleet is no exception.

“I suppose Saturday is a bit like a game day for a sportsperson,” she said.

“There is not a lot of preparation you can do on the day. The preparation all comes beforehand. It’s about knowing the property well [and] knowing the area well, which is why we have a strong focus on our local area.”



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