Real estate sales agents in the Greater Toronto Area don’t skew heavily male nor female, but the latter still content with rampant sexism.
Meetings between female agents and their male colleagues or clients often give the latter the impression they’re meeting under romantic pretenses for no other reason than their genders. Caitlin Clemmens, an agent with the Starke Realty Team at PSR Brokerage, says it’s happened to her a few times but she has ways to fend off advances and steer the meetings back on track.
“I find that talking about the market and leading with your base of knowledge really helps because you’re proving that this is your career, you’re putting the work in every day, and you’re a product of that,” she said. “The more you talk about business and real estate, the more people respect you and your choices. That helps me out in those situations.”
Unfortunately, Clemmens is hardly the only female agent who regularly finds herself in those situations. She’s talked to others and they gladly shared their tactics.
“Meeting with a solid introduction is a great way to keep that barrier up between your professional and dating lives,” said Clemmens. “Introduce yourself by your full name and with a handshake instead of a hug, and set appropriate meeting times. If somebody wants to meet for drinks, it might be better to meet for breakfast instead or for a coffee in the afternoon because you’ll have an easier time deflecting.”
Clemmens is in her 20s, which she feels give people the impression that she isn’t serious about her career, even though she moved to Toronto with the specific intention of becoming a real estate sales representative.
“Because the barrier to entering real estate is so low, people often misjudge your level of professionalism as a realtor,” she said. “To be a realtor in her mid-20s and female, people don’t realize that this is a career we’re pursuing actively and not just a pastime. Some men think we’re not serious and are just interested in going on dates rather than pursuing our careers and building our networks and our careers.”
Rosie Gimeno, a sales representative with REMAX Specialists Estate Group, says that, unfortunately, flirtatious banter is to be expected during meetings with males, but that it’s imperative to nip it in the bud immediately.
“The line between business and casual dialogue varies immensely, and when dealing with professionals it is anticipated that flirtatious banter will occur, but it should be stopped, blocked and rejected from the get-go,” said Gimeno.
She added that the men who cross that line and make things uncomfortable ultimately do themselves the greater disservice.
“He could be sabotaging himself by having the realtor sever the professional relationship, thereby costing him thousands of dollars by not having her representation,” continued Gimeno. “I don’t believe any salesperson should be afraid to lose a deal because they’re sticking up for themselves and have self-respect. Even if there is a loss of income by making this executive decision, I believe it will only enhance their careers.”