5 Influential Women in Real Estate

Barbara Corcoran

Most people know Barbara Corcoran for her role as an investor on Shark Tank, but her background and story is inspirational. This New Jersey native had humble beginnings as the second of ten children in a working class home. She borrowed $1,000 and quit her job as a waitress to start a tiny real estate company in New York City. Over the next 25 years Barbara would parlay that $1,000 loan into a $5 billion real estate business, building the largest and best-known brand in the business.

Dorcas Helfant

Dorcas was the first female president of the National Association of Realtors. She elected to the office in 1992 and was also the first woman to serve as the president of her state association. Her service to others in her profession included a key merger of her own real estate firm with other Caldwell Banker firms that provided “an effective career track for our associates.”

Ebby Halliday

Any woman who started and owned a business in the late 1930’s was almost by definition a trailblazer, but Ebby was not satisfied with owning her own hat boutique. She easily transitioned to residential real estate and dominated the Dallas market for decades. She credited her success to simple hard work and caring about the needs of others.

Tracy Dodson

While women have been very successful in residential real estate, commercial real estate has been a much more difficult market. Only 35% of professionals in this sector are women, and virtually all of them work in property management. As vice president of brokerage and development at Lincoln Harris in Charlotte, N.C. Tracy is one of the pioneers in commercial real estate development.

Debra Cafaro

Debra has blazed a trail of success. She took over the helm at Ventas, a publicly traded Real Estate Investment Trust (REIT) in 1999, the firm was facing collapse. The sole tenant of the properties was bankrupt and had stopped paying rent. The firm had a market cap of $200 million and $1 billion in debt. In addition, there were claims of Medicare fraud.

Now, Debra is recognized for returning shareholder 3,981.3 % for the 16 years ended December 31, 2015. She is one of only 23 CEOs named by Harvard Business Review for four consecutive years and one of only two women on the 2017 list. This same year Forbes Magazine recognized her as among the 100 most powerful women in the world.

It feels good to be in such good company as a woman in real estate!