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VOL. 119 | NO. 66 | Tuesday, April 12, 2005

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Women Looking to Make Mark in Commercial Real Estate

Women Making Mark in Commercial Real Estate


The Daily News

When a homebuyer looks to a Realtor for help in finding the perfect house, more often than not, that Realtor will be a woman.

But when it comes to commercial real estate, its a mans world.

Nationally, more than 50 percent of all residential Realtors are women, according to the National Association of Realtors. But in commercial real estate, that percentage is much smaller.

Changing work force. One exception to the rule is the Memphis office of CRESA Partners, where a majority of employees are women. And there are talented women throughout the field of commercial real estate.

But there is room for more.

The whole world is changing. Demographics, work force the decision makers are changing, said Mary Singer, president of CRESA Partners and co-founder of Commercial Realty Group, a woman-owned commercial real estate house. With all of those changes, a lot of what were seeing is that in any industry, be it the legal field or health care field or banking field, if youre willing to do what it takes to be the decision-maker at the top, then its going to work. A lot of the opportunity comes at having the conviction for what you want to do. If you have the conviction, it has nothing to do with being male or female. It has to do with getting all of the education that you can get and then understanding what it takes to be the expert at the table.

Memphis market. Kathy Pampuro, a vice president of office real estate with Boyle Investment Co., has been working in the Memphis commercial real estate scene for 20 years.

Ive never had anyone treat me but with the utmost respect, she said. Its all about trying to be the best you can for whoever your client is Ive been very fortunate in my career to have worked with some really fine and knowledgeable people who have allowed me the leeway to learn and do it my way and find what works for me.

Jill Schmitt, a broker with CRESA, enjoys the challenges that come with working in a male-dominated profession.

Weve never shied away from a challenge, and I love working with these guys, Schmitt said. I think being a woman is almost a benefit these days. Its an edge, like I can distinguish myself.

She does find herself at a disadvantage in some deals, though.

A lot of our deals are done on the golf course, and Im realizing I need to learn how to play golf, she said. There is some business Im not going to get because Im not going to go out and play golf. But then, there is tons of business out there that needs to be done that Im very willing to do that has nothing to do with making deals on the golf course.

Highlighting opportunities. A lack of women in the profession could be helped through greater awareness, said Carma Jude, an affiliate broker with CRESA.

I think not as many women are aware of the opportunities in commercial real estate, she said. There are tons of female residential agents and very successful residential agents. The commercial side of it just seems to have, even for men, a smaller group of practitioners. It seems to be more of a barrier to entry for anyone. And I think not as many women know the possibilities. There are a lot more women in the property management side of it now. Still not as many in the brokerage side, but there are more today than probably five to seven years ago.

New psychology. Singer said there is a changing mindset in the world of commercial real estate.

Where all of us are going as we start to move forward, its really changing psychology in regard to how were working with one another, she said. There were some traditional things back in the 80s when I started things, but the new psychology and the new work force is the way Jill and Carma are working at things, and thats being able to react very quickly.

The younger generation, theyre so much bolder in knowing what they want and what they have to do to get there than even my generation, and definitely a totally different mindset than what we saw with our mothers. They have the ability to do more with less time than anything Ive ever seen. They amaze me.

Working moms. Technology has played a role in opening the profession to workers who cant devote their full attention to the office.

I think Im in the perfect field for being able to raise a child and work, said Schmitt, who leaves work mid-afternoon to pick up her young son. He naps in the afternoon, so thats when I get to sit down and do a lot of computer work. I dont do cold calling in the afternoon, but its mostly due diligence making sure my deals are working the right way.

Its a lot of research, figuring out the companies youre going after and making sure you know what they do before you walk into their office and give them a sales pitch.


PROPERTY SALES 56 56 9,658
MORTGAGES 49 49 10,665
BUILDING PERMITS 212 212 21,170
BANKRUPTCIES 49 49 6,157