Professional women brokers have made a mark in the real estate arena, which was seen as a predominantly man’s world. Prachi Rege finds out how.
It is said that `a woman makes a house a home`. While women make most of the decisions regarding their homes in their various avatars as wives, daughters, etc., the one role that is less heard of in the society is that of woman real estate broker. So if you are a woman armed with an MBA coupled with a commerce or law degree and are looking to set up a venture, then real estate broking could be your calling.
Most realty professionals believe that the fairer sex has an edge over men where selling properties are concerned. "Women have a flair for looking into the nitty grittes of a property. The natural instinct aids us in helping our clients in picking up the right home," explains Shalini Kumar, partner, Sq.Ft. Realtors, who entered the profession by chance.
"Women are excellent at managing egos,don`t we do it at home all the time?" quips Sneha Pathak, another broker and member of South MetroCity Association of Realtors (SMART). Pathak entered the profession 14 years ago, when “only three other women where in the industry”. Even today the male to female ratio in the industry is quite skewed, says Pathak. “Among the 30 odd members in SMART only seven are women.”
Raj Shah, owner of Square Feet Realty Consultants, says he wants more women to be a part of this industry. "They are naturally able to connect on issues of family details with regards to children etc..when this is used from a broker perpective it helps in zeroing down on the appropriate property," says Shah.
Sunita Advani was working in a garment export company, until she inherited the family broking business from her father. She was reluctant to work as a broker and wanted to close the business instead of taking it forward. However, the last deal she made before shutting down the company left a sweet taste of success. "Brokering the deal changed my mind towards the whole property business, "says the law graduate who soon set up her own company.
Industry stalwarts are of the opinion that a well trained and educated realtor is the need of the hour Realty broking is both an organised and unorganised industry, which is the biggest challenge for those in this profession. "Even a local panwala or baniya can point you to flats available on sale or lease," says Pathak. Kumar agrees with Pathak. "A number of legalities are involved in the process of buying, selling or leasing a property. Professional realtors must be updated with all of these to avoid confusion and errors in the process," she says.
Experts suggest that many realtors end up copy pasting legal documents without understanding the importance and relevance of the same.
To tide over the crisis, SMART is now launching a six to eight month training programme for professional realtors. "The training will equip professional realtors with all the necessary information and skills required for the job," says Pathak. Advani believes that the SMART course will definitely serve as an excellent platform to brush up realtors skills on a regular basis.
The Mumbai Realtors club conducts workshops for brokers on various aspects of the profession and also tech training. "There is a general stigma attached to the business. People see you in a certain prejudiced light. Through the club we intend to make ourselves more respectable in the society," says Shah, who runs the club.
Women in this profession have to put up with stereotypes in this predominantly male-profession. Since 90 per cent of the interaction in the business happens with other brokers, most client come through referals, a woman in the industry has to deal with men on a regular basis. "In the begining of my career many believed that this will be a short-lived stint or a part-time lesuire for me," informs Pathak. However, times have changed. A woman real estate agent is no more a threat to male brokers and even clients see the bright side of having a woman`s perspective in a property deal.
This is an almost a zero investment business and may have a turnover of anywhere between Rs 50 lakh to a crore per annum. Pathak stresses on having absolute transparency in the deals. "Most brokers make hasty deals to earn their commission fee. While the fee is important, making an honest and harmless deal should also be priority," she says.
There is a flip side to this too. Sometimes clients cheat brokers. They may change the realtor without prior notice or fail to acknowledge his/ her fee on purpose. "Just like any other industry it is not all clean here either, however, with a more informed clientele entering the market, the need for good brokers will only see the upward trend," voice the experts.
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