LA Confidential: Importance of Women in Real Estate

laurelThis is a fantastic article from LA Confidential on the importance of women in residential real estate and it featured two of my fabulous listings. I am very proud to be included!


In LA, women rule the roosts. Literally. Meet the reigning queens of LA’s high-end surreal estate scene.

Stereotypes abound when it comes to female real estate agents. Remember Annette Bening’s memorable character in American Beauty? She was a lacquered, well-coiffed doll who dressed to the nines, ambitious with a touch of edge. (“I will sell this house today,” was her memorable mantra.) Fictional clichés aside, LA’s highly competitive real estate market demands substance behind manicured appearances. Like their male counterparts, women who stand out in Los Angeles’s luxury residential real estate are experts at negotiation, navigating the document-heavy escrow process and, ultimately, closing deals.

Gone are the days–if they ever existed–when the business wasn’t all consuming. “The myth is that there’s flexibility; if you’re good, you’re doing real estate 24/7,” says Sotheby’s Leslie Kavanaugh.

Real estate wasn’t Kavanaugh’s first profession. She worked in property development and interior design before obtaining her license. A circuitous career path is not uncommon. Tami Pardee of Pardee Properties once worked for Sharon Stone. “She was a mentor and really tough. She didn’t believe in the word no,” recalls Pardee, whose 44-person company had more than $417 million in sales in 2014.

Unlike other business realms, real estate is one where women can–and do–compete on the same level with men, says Pardee. (And they’re paid via commission, rather than salary, so there’s no gender bias in compensation.) In fact, LA’s highest-priced listing–a $195 million, 53,000-square-foot, Mediterranean-style villa on 25 acres at the top of Beverly Hills–is represented by Coldwell Banker Previews International’s Joyce Rey and her colleague Stacy Gottula. Rey is also handling the sale of the legendary Samuel Goldwyn estate in Beverly Hills for $39 million.

Pardee specializes in Venice, where buyers from the hightech scene have launched prices up to the $900 to $1,000 per square foot range (she recently listed a four bedroom, three story contemporary on Linnie Canal for $5 million). Low inventory also contributes to the tighter market. Female real estate agents may have an advantage: the “E” or emotional factor, says Pardee. “Women want people to be happy; they want clients to get what they want,” she believes.

Deedee Howard, partner at The Agency, contends that agents “are either caretakers or salespeople, or both.” Women tend to favor the caretaking aspect, while men are more about the hard sell, says the 28year real estate veteran. But for her, there’s one absolute: “I specialize in my clients.” Several have been with her for her entire career. She advanced without mentors or contacts, initially accruing clients through open houses and cold calls.

Today’s agents must also have a global mindset, says Valerie Fitzgerald of Coldwell Banker Previews International’s Valerie Fitzgerald Group. Recent trips abroad have enhanced her international outreach. “California real estate is still a good buy,” insists Fitzgerald, pointing to a $14.94 million sexy contemporary with dropdead views on Beverly Crest that she’s representing.

When she got into the business more than 23 years ago, agents worked just their own neighborhoods. “Real estate was not really considered a profession,” she remembers. Obviously, that’s changed, and Fitzgerald has consistently sought to up her game: She’s worked with a business coach for 14 years and found inspiration from tomes like Jack Canfield’s The Success Principles: How to Get From Where You Are to Where You Want to Be, which gave her the confidence to “think big.” A confirmed multitasker, Fitzgerald has also written a real estate business book of her own, Heart & Sold: How to Survive and Thrive in Real Estate. “There’s no right or wrong way [to sell]. It’s about consistency,” she says, though she admits that women may be less egodriven and reactive than their male counterparts.

The complexities of finalizing deals challenges all agents. As Leslie Kavanaugh explains, when issues come up in escrow, “You have to have good relationships with the other agents. We’re all problem solvers and we’re all here to help people and make things happen together.” It’s a sorority that requires due diligence and finesse–a sisterhood of enviable returns.