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Homes.com

Nowadays, it’s ladies first.

Women control the majority of household spending, earn a majority of higher education degrees and saw their income grow at nearly four times the rate of men’s income between 1990 and 2006.(1) Only one-fourth of jobs lost in the current recession were lost by women. Of the 15 fastest-growing job categories in the U.S., women dominate in all but two. While women are still outnumbered in CEO positions, they are overtaking men in middle management and professional jobs, holding 51.4% of these positions according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. And although female CEOs are scarce, last year they received bigger raises than their male counterparts and outearned them by an average of 43%.(2)

So, what does this mean for you, the real estate agent? Modern female consumers, in short, have a great deal of clout. Fortunately, they are also interested in investing in your market. Twice as many unmarried women are buying homes than single men(3), and 76% of women versus 44% of men consider owning a home to be “very important.”(4) Much of this isn’t news to real estate professionals, who are likely accustomed to seeing women as the primary spenders and decision makers in real estate. It is, however, worth pointing out these statistics in order to underline this question—if women are your primary consumers, how are you attempting to reach out to women through your marketing and meet their unique needs with the services you provide?

As real estate consumers, men and women behave in markedly different ways. One important dividing line between the genders is their use of social media. Social media prioritizes many things women are conditioned to value in our society, like building relationships, fostering a sense of community and offering the opportunity to participate in collective action. A study conducted by Women of NBC Universal in September 2010 showed that brands that used social media like Foursquare and Facebook to reach out to consumers saw a major spike in interest among women.

Women also place a high degree of value on referrals. The same study found that 62% of women felt what they heard from others was credible and believable, and 51% said they would purchase something based on a conversation(5). Having testimonials on your website or urging former clients to share their good experience with you as an agent with their friends could gain you many new referrals.

While women currently outnumber men in the workforce, work for women doesn’t end when they arrive home. Both stay-at-home and working mothers still assume the bulk of household responsibilities, including cooking, laundry, grocery shopping and cleaning(6). Women are overwhelmed with responsibilities and probably inclined to see buying or selling a home as little more than another source of stress.

To successfully connect with female consumers, emphasize how easy you will make the process of home buying or selling. Provide materials on your website and at community events that offer useful information about real estate, the market, local schools and anything else that would be of interest. Demonstrate that you are willing to put in the time and effort so your client doesn’t have to.

1   Marissa Miley and Ann Mack, “The Rise of the Real Mom,” Advertising Age 16 November 2009: 3-5.
2   Hanna Rosin, “The End of Men,” The Atlantic .
3   Rachel Bogardus Drew, “Buying for Themselves: An Analysis of Unmarried Female Home Buyers,” Joint Center for Housing Studies Harvard University June 2006.
4   Miley and Mack, 6.
5   “Women at NBCU unveils ‘Women at NBCU Brand Power Index’” 27 September 2010.
6   Miley and Mack, 7.