Ideal Properties Group, a Brooklyn, N.Y.-based independently owned real estate brokerage, launched a new group earlier this month that focuses on improving women’s opportunities in the real estate industry and educating them through mentorship and training. The group, called Women of Ideal (WOI), will meet bi-monthly and members will be able to find mentors, learn more about the industry, understand how to build financial independence and more.
Aleksandra Scepanovic, a founder & managing director of Ideal Properties Group, spoke to MHN about the goals of this new group and how it can benefit women in real estate.
MHN: Why did Ideal Properties Group decide to launch WOI?
Scepanovic: As one of the founders of Ideal Properties Group, I have been very fortunate to cross paths with many amazing women who have taken the time to impart wisdom on me, to share with me what helped them succeed, overcome trepidation, become better at times of adversity, and I believe it’s imperative for me and others like me to find the time to do the same for others. All those encounters and experiences have left indelible marks I will always be grateful for and will never forget. These lessons need to continue to live and make their way to the 20-somethings, 30-somethings, women who are just now finding their way into the professional world. I care deeply for the women I work with. I believe all of them possess an incredible power we’ll all one day get to experience, provided they’re all afforded the confidence and opportunity to be their best.
I wear many hats in my firm, and the legacy I’d be most proud to leave would be one of a mentor and a friend.
MHN: What challenges do you think women in particular face working in the real estate industry?
Scepanovic: The birth of WOI was spurred by the rapidly growing stories of unbridled success of female brokers in the domain of residential brokerage. According to a recent Ideal Properties Group study, in the past few years, around 70 percent of the residential real estate transactions in Brooklyn were closed by females.
Still, there is a widespread notion that the real estate business is a man’s world. That general sense of haphazard placement of females within a male-dominated industry birthed the creation of an organization whose founders feel will be a much-needed addition to real estate women’s daily efforts at being successful, valued and honored members of their profession.
Women in the real estate industry face the same challenges women all over the country face when it comes to business. In many cases, women are not paid the same wage for the same job as their male counterpart. Women are being overlooked for promotion due to their gender or their employer’s fear of a multi-month paid leave. Even today, women rarely have the time to be their best because of societal expectations surrounding their gender (or media portrayals of same).
WOI believes if the workplace is a better place for women, the workplace is a better place for everyone. As women engaged in the real estate business, we put a lot on the line. We feel the time has come to let our gender take us in a direction we can craft ourselves.
MHN: What does the group hope to achieve?
Scepanovic: WOI’s major commitment rests in the continual betterment of its members. The inaugural event this February set its sights on strengthening women’s opportunities within the real estate industry. WOI is its founders’ small contribution to solidifying mentorship and educational opportunities for female real estate professionals, but also more.
The group’s long-term goals are plenty. WOI will initiate a mentorship program, geared toward new female staff members. The group is in the process of creating a finance committee with a multitude of goals, including establishment of various wealth-building initiatives, as well as education and emergency funds. Philanthropic and community outreach initiatives are being fine-tuned.
Some short-term goals include establishing a child care program so brokers with children can ensure their loved ones are taken care of at times of last-minute showing appointments or other times of need. WOI will also aim to improve safety for female sales professionals during showing apartments and homes—such as starting a buddy program to enable brokers to pair up while trekking to unfamiliar territory.
MHN: What benefits does the group provide to its members?
Scepanovic: Access to experienced mentors, ability to tap into continuing education and emergency funds and opportunity to actively participate in many initiatives, including philanthropic and community outreach.
MHN: Is the group open to any women in real estate or just women at Ideal? How many members does the group have so far and how do you plan to grow?
Scepanovic: For now, WOI is exclusively focused on women working at Ideal Properties Group. Our future plans extend to our clients, customers, friends and colleagues. The group, which had a turnout of around 40 sales and support staff for the maiden event, will be meeting bi-monthly, fine-tuning the message and mechanisms to attract further members.
MHN: What kinds of activities or events do you have planned?
Scepanovic: From creating opportunities to volunteer time or resources to philanthropic initiatives (currently focusing on Women in Need, Veteran Women, NYWIFT and Breast Cancer Survivor groups), the group plans on exposing its members to workshops and mini seminars ranging from self-defense and improv classes to marketing and media professional meet ups.
The inaugural meeting of WOI, headed by the group’s president, Wendy Jones, was a day of inspiration, shared and felt by all those present. With so much global attention focused on Brooklyn, and Ideal being one of the largest independently owned real estate brokerages in the borough, it simply makes sense for Ideal to be at the forefront of supporting its female self by providing a meaningful not-for-profit platform to further ascertain and assure its strength.