Breaking Barriers: One Woman’s Journey in Real Estate by Brigitte Stills

In 1975, I was known to be the first woman in real estate sales at a large conglomerate with 12 branches. This milestone marked the start of a journey filled with challenges and triumphs.

It all began when I needed a part-time job to support myself while studying clinical psychology at university. I applied for a rental clerk position with a development company specialising in building and renting apartments across Sydney. I secured the role and excelled, leasing over 38 apartments in one month. Consequently, I was offered a full-time position.

I loved the job because it gave me the satisfaction of helping every day people find their new homes.I also had the opportunity to engage with various individuals in the property and development sectors which enriched my studies and personal growth.  

After deferring my studies to accept the full-time role, the company offered me a position in their sales force when they began selling newly strata-titled unit blocks. Eager for the challenge, I transitioned into sales, initially working alongside one of the directors. I worked tirelessly, seven days a week, successfully selling apartments in the North Western Suburbs of Sydney.

Despite my success, I aspired to expand my expertise to residential, commercial, and industrial properties. I faced numerous rejections from principal real estate agents who were reluctant to hire women for sales roles, despite my proven track record.

Finally, I found an agency willing to give me a chance. The manager challenged me to prove my capability. After a rigorous interview process, I was offered a job on a three-month trial. I was the only female sales agent in an office of seven men, apart from the receptionist.

To establish myself, I spent considerable time door-knocking, networking, and building relationships in a multicultural area of Sydney, which was not easy. One breakthrough came when I developed a relationship with an organisation managing a children’s home that needed to sell its substantial property. Despite my manager’s desire to handle the sale, the home’s organisation’s management insisted I be the selling agent and include my name on all marketing material.

The sale was a tremendous success, with the vendors accepting my advice to proceed with the sale of the property via the auction process recording one of the highest sales in the area and earning me recognition in the local media. My company acknowledged my achievement, marking a turning point in my career.

From then on, I continued to achieve significant successes, such as selling a high-end car yard on Parramatta Road and two development sites in Drummoyne. I had made my mark in the real estate industry.

To top it all off, my general manager hired another female sales agent and asked me to mentor her, finally acknowledging that women can excel in real estate.

Four decades later, many real estate agencies are hiring women—some more than others.  After successfully running my own real estate business specialising in property management for over 27 years. I have transitioned into consulting, coaching and mentoring real estate agents.

This is not new to me. During my time in business, I’d been approached several times to assist or help start-ups.

I remain very passionate about the industry that has helped me be who I am today. I believe that the knowledge and experience I’ve gained over the years is something valuable that I can share with others and help them become successful and lead them to become champions in their industry.

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