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While real estate is trying to gather its collective composure after the National Association of Realtors’ proposed settlement in most of its commission cases, which spurred days of TikTok rants, there’s one thing no one seems to be talking about: Women stand to face the most significant impact from the new proposed commission changes.

Women make up a 64 percent majority of the housing industry and are already measurably being paid less. According to a Forbes March 2024 Gender Pay Gap Study, real estate brokers have the most significant gender pay gap in surveyed jobs in America, with men earning an average of 60 percent more than their female counterparts.

If commission compression does have the impact that many experts are projecting, it will no doubt have more of an impact on women, especially women of color, who already struggle to make a fair wage. NAR data shows that women make up the majority of part-time agents, and those are the agents, by and large, who many experts believe will get squeezed out of the industry amid these compensation changes. 

Let’s analyze new data on real estate agents’ incomes, hear what women leaders have to say about the new proposed commission changes, and discuss how to bring your hammer to break that glass ceiling. 


Women’s viewpoints

Since the 418 million dollar Sizer|Burnett settlement announcement on March 15, there have been plenty of bros behind microphones breaking down the chaos, and agents are seemingly falling into four factions that are ready to fight for their rights, reform or compromise for what’s ahead, with courts, judges and the Department of Justice playing referee.

Trying to cut through all the noise and get to the heart of the matter, I wanted to hear what the brightest women’s leadership said about what to expect next for women in our industry and how to prepare. 

Attorney and popular Inman Connect speaker Kendall Bonner gathered a panel of women leaders last week. Together, they streamed their thoughts and best advice for the industry, spotlighting a vital perspective that all agents need to hear.

“I have always been passionate about encouraging women in leadership, and there is nothing our industry needs more right now than leadership and our perspective,” attorney and team leader Bonner told Inman.

Bonner, along with  Veronica Figueroa and Kathy Helbig-Strick streamed a panel discussion on March 20, breaking down the new settlement rules, various strategies and how to start building a foundation of confidence to prepare your business ahead of this change.

“I feel there is a real opportunity for women to lead these conversations with not only an interpretation of what may come next but also a proactive approach to working in this new normal.

“Leadership will help others navigate what to do next and when. My goal is to help all agents recognize their value, communicate their worth and deliver on that experience,” Bonner said.

“Being a voice of reason, trust, and clarity, allows our entire industry to thrive; bringing chaos, distrust, and confusion is not leadership, and it’s not productive. I’m encouraging others to speak up with facts, not fiction, a plan, not silence, all in the hopes of bringing our industry forward through this next evolution.” 

Yeah Buck, shattering the glass ceiling is ‘difficult’

Forget the noise, and focus on what is being said. Every agent will have to be on the offensive about their income from here on out. Plenty of data supports that women must take charge of their financial future right now, not next week, and certainly not this projected July deadline. 

NAR’s Buck Wargo wrote an article on March 11, 2024, (Were there no women reporters available to write this?) about how hard it is to be a leader as a woman in real estate and how they just need to work harder to support each other.

“Shattering the glass ceiling can be difficult. Whether it’s working as a single mom, building self-confidence alongside male colleagues or ascending the ranks at a male-dominated brokerage, many challenges should bring women together,” Buck Wargo wrote in “Women Can Help Each Other Get Ahead in Real Estate.”

Women also make up the majority of part-time agents. Unfortunately, 75 percent of agents who work less than 40 hours a week with two or fewer years under their belts — the part-timers who are most likely to get squeezed out of the business post-settlement — are women. And then, when you look at three years and up, women make up at least 67 percent of those part-timers. 

That makes sense because the “part-time” flexible schedule is ideal for women who are caregivers and need jobs that can flex around their busy and demanding lives. 

Much of the post-settlement conversation about the market tightening up is around part-timers leaving the business. The perception is that those part-timers aren’t as good as full-time agents.

However, the numbers show that women are the majority of those part-time agents

What’s not being talked about is how hard it is to get equitable compensation as a woman, especially a woman of color, which aligns with data that shows that women of color in America experience significant gaps in wages from their white male counterparts. 

Women of color face wage gaps because of racism and sexism that are still embedded in our current American culture. 

The U.S. Census Bureau finds, on average, that Black women have been paid only 63 percent of what non-Hispanic white men were paid in 2021. 

NAR data shows that 81 percent of agents identify as white, meaning that appropriate representation for minorities has even more hurdles in our industry, according to member profile in 2023 in Exhibit 6-14, Racial and Ethnic Distribution of Realtors by Age. 

Final thoughts

I’ve recently written several articles to help women agents manage their finances and be aggressive about what’s ahead.

This is about more than women supporting women. It’s about ensuring we are represented in leadership, mentorship, and the industry, advocating for better splits, and not backing down when protecting fair compensation and space in the current landscape and the horizons ahead.

Please take financial expert Tori Dunlap’s advice and talk about your income — and don’t stop talking about it.

If the current system is evolving, now’s the perfect time to bring your hammer and rebuild it from the ground up. Let’s move into this new era of real estate with the mindset that it can be fair and equitable to all parties involved.

Don’t give up; don’t go quietly out of your career because folks are saying part-time agents are done. Ladies, your most significant protest is to get involved and start making change for yourself and future women leaders. So don’t compromise. Let’s work for real solutions. 

Rachael Hite is a former agent, a business development specialist, fair housing advocate, copy editor and is currently perfecting her long game selling homes in a retirement community in Northern Virginia. You can connect with her about life, marketing and business on Instagram.

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