Women brokers: Rising stars

Today we decided to bat for the unsung heroes in the real estate sector – Women Brokers. Though the sector itself has slowly seen the infusion of women over the last few years, brokerage still remains largely male dominated. Which is why the success stories of women, in this field, is especially inspiring. We have featured six women brokers from six cities in the country – from diverse backgrounds, with different journeys of success, all tied in by one common element – their determination to not be intimidated by the difficult working conditions and make a success of their careers

‘This industry has made me super confident’

Anuja Sinha, founder director, Humming Homes, immediate past president – Association of Property Professionals, Delhi NCR

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Anuja Sinha, a graduate from Miranda House, University of Delhi, started her career in 1996 and worked with organisations like Telstra, Bridge Information Systems (Reuters) and HSBC.

According to her, this experience instilled in her the fundamentals of a professional, ethical and commitment-based approach to work. In 2008 though, Sinha quit her corporate job, as she wanted time for herself and her family. “At that time, Bricks and Mortar Global was being conceptualised and initiated by Vishal Anand. The objective, was to bring professionalism into the trade. I joined as the marketing head and the rest, as they say, is history,” she beams.

She went on to become the first woman Governing Body Member on the board of National Association of Realtors India (NAR-India) and the first lady president of NAR-India | APP-Delhi NCR | New Delhi.

“A few years ago, upgrading one’s skills was difficult, as this industry was unorganised and there was a dearth of knowledge-based programs. Through the NAR-India, we designed and conducted various educational programs for real estate professionals,” informs Sinha, adding that the NAR is also focusing on women’s empowerment in real estate.

Earlier, at NAR-India meetings, she used to be the only woman representative across India. “Thus, I had the self-imposed responsibility of keeping the flag flying high, for the women workforce,” says Sinha, who is now the founder director of Humming Homes. Sinha feels that she is able to bring a woman’s perspective (by being subjective, detailed, scientific and balanced) in analysing properties and suggesting options.

“This industry is high on financial rewards but it is also volatile. So, whatever one earns, one must invest for the rainy days. My career has given me reward, recognition, flexibility and intellectual exposure,” she sums up.

‘My daughter is proud her mother is a broker’

Kavita Kiran Sadre, founder and managing director of Kiran Housing, Thane

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Kavita Kiran Sadre had a clear aim that she wanted to be financially independent. Sadre, a commerce graduate, was initially in the building materials business, before she decided to become a real estate consultant. “I spent several months, researching about properties, documentation, loan procedures, registration, etc., and in 2005, I started Kiran Housing in Thane,” she shares.

“I have two daughters and my husband, being an NRI, was often away. Balancing home and work was difficult but not impossible. Moreover, many clients take woman entrepreneurs for granted. They feel that we do not deserve our 2% or 1% commission, as they fail to recognise our hard work,” she laments.

Sadre, who is the joint-secretary of the Thane Estate Agent Association, points out that “There are 250 members but not even 10% are women. However, it is easier to enter the industry now, as there are courses the one can opt for, before starting a business in this field.”

Recalling an incident, Sadre shares, “When my daughter’s friend once told her that ‘your mother is a broker’, my daughter was confused. So, I took her to different sites, so that she could understand my work. She was so happy and proud of me.”

‘Women brokers have strong negotiation skills’

Sarla Mehta, Shree Estate Agency, Mumbai

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Sarla Mehta may appear like a typical, soft-spoken Gujarati homemaker, but this real estate broker based in Vile Parle, Mumbai, has been in the profession for 20 years.

Mehta entered the field by chance, when her brothers (who are developers) constructed a building and she managed to sell one of their flats and earned a brokerage of Rs one lakh. “That motivated me, to become a real estate broker and I haven’t looked back,” she recalls. Mehta deals with properties in the primary and resale markets. She also handles rental accommodation of students in hostels and flats.

Mehta is an arts graduate, who earlier worked in accounts and also in a beauty salon. “Being a broker involves long hours and tough working conditions. When I started, there were hardly any women in this field and clients were surprised to see me but I have always been respected. I was duped only once, where, after finalising a property, the person did not pay my commission,” explains the mother of three, who is also a mother-in-law.

“Initially, I would advertise in newspapers and slowly my clientele grew, through word-of-mouth publicity. I learnt everything – the processes involved in paperwork, stamp duty, registration, etc., through experience. I am happy with my work as I am financially independent. I am glad to see more women entering this field now as they are polite and have strong negotiating abilities, which matter a lot in this profession,” she points out.

‘Initial apprehensions aside, my husband joined my business’

Shanta Chhabra, Tulsi Properties, Pune

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Shanta Chhabra entered the real estate business after she and her husband shifted to Pune, from Rajasthan. She felt that a real estate business could be started, without any investment or risk. However, the biggest problem for her, was dealing with other male brokers. “Initially, they didn’t cooperate at all and in this business, one needs to network. My husband too, was apprehensive about me working in this field. However, after a few years, he also joined me and now, we work as a team,” she says proudly.

“I take care of the office and administration work and he is out on the field. Moreover, I always have my staff to visit sites and manage office work. The ‘broker’ tag does not matter, as long as there are financial rewards for my hard work,” Chhabra insists.

She recalls an incident where a bank refused to disburse an approved home loan to her client on the day the property was to be registered, owing to a small issue. “We went to the bank and after endless discussions and paperwork, we sorted it out and registered the property at the last minute. The client was very happy with my work,” she smiles. Chhabra feels that her work has grown because of goodwill.

Nevertheless, she is quick to admit that her journey has been like a roller-coaster ride. “It was tough, to be a working woman and a mother of two but women are efficient in multi-tasking and managing both worlds,” says Chhabra.

‘The sheer joy of clinching a deal keeps me going’

Ritu Arora, Punya’s Property Solutions, Bengaluru

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Ritu Arora started her career running a gift shop. “Eventually, because of the changing business trends and my excellent rapport with people, I moved into property consultancy,” she recounts. Arora has now been in the realty business for the past 15 years and she has now also started a construction business, with a partner.

“When I first started, there were hardly any women in this field. People were definitely surprised. However, once they understood that I am well-informed about my work, their respect grew and would refer other clients to me,” she reminisces.

Arora explains that the business has its highs and lows – there are no fixed timings or monthly income. Moreover, being a single parent, it was not easy for her to balance home and work. “Today, my daughter is grown up and my day is packed with visits and meetings. I have a strong network all over Bangalore and am slowly expanding into other states,” she elaborates.

“The sheer joy of clinching a deal keeps me going. Today, women want careers, not just for financial independence, but to tackle challenges and for a sense of achievement,” says Arora, who believes that hard work, dedication and focus are the main ingredients for success.

‘My work is my passion’

Sujata Durai, managing partner of Chennai Dream Homes, Chennai

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Sujata Durai (known as Neeta) started Chennai Dream Homes, along with her partner P Saravanan, in 2004. Durai holds a BEd degree and is also a post graduate. She dabbled in various businesses and eventually started a real estate blog, for which she got a good response. So, she set up a website for real estate business.

“I started from scratch. My business has flourished and I deal with high-end luxury properties today,” she explains. However, she points out that real estate is still a male dominated field. She is the only female permanent member in the Chennai Real Estate Agents Association (CREAA) among 106 others, for the past five years.

“Buying or selling real estate, involves a considerable amount of money and trust in the realtor, who is in-between the two clients (the seller and the buyer). It is a complicated process and being an experienced woman realtor, is helpful,” she feels.

Durai confesses that it is tough, to balance home and work responsibilities. “I do all the work at home myself and take care of my family, my children and my parents. I work 365 days, 24/7. For success, honesty and integrity matter. My work is my passion and it gives me a sense of accomplishment,” she concludes.

A very Happy Women’s Day to all of you!

If you like this article, you can also read: Tips to find the right real estate broker

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