04/05/2015 - 10:30

Ladies rule at Perth agencies

04/05/2015 - 10:30

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Two Perth agencies are so confident their female employees provide the X factor, they’ve built their business around hiring women.

FOCUSED GROUP: Sue Pember (seated) with Mi Casa employees Deb Albrecht (left) Susan Lam and Renee Jefferys. Photo: Attila Csaszar

Two Perth agencies are so confident their female employees provide the X factor, they’ve built their business around hiring women.

One established real estate agent and another, newer, arrival on the scene are offering clients a different service experience to many of their competitors in Perth.

The most obvious point of difference between the two agencies – The Property Exchange, and Mi Casa Property Boutique – and others is that they are staffed almost entirely by women.

When Niki Peinke set up western suburbs-focused The Property Exchange in 1997, she found her initial team of three women attracted positive attention.

“We started getting lots of listings, so people started to referring to us as the girls who got that listing, so then we decided that’s a really good idea, we should actually stay all girls,” Ms Peinke told Business News.

After 11 years, a male employee broke through the ranks, and today the agency employs 19 women and one man.

Ms Peinke said having a largely female staff helped the agency better tap into buyers’ needs.

“With residential real estate it’s a very emotional purchase, therefore, to me, women are better at it,” she said.

“We put a lot into our presentation to make it feel like a home. I won’t open a house without music, without the doors open, the lights on, with everything looking really good.”

And Ms Peinke said an almost all-female team provided other benefits, particularly in terms of workplace culture.

“The ethos in the office is fantastic because when you’re all female you’re all on the same wavelength … it’s very easy to communicate and understand things,” Ms Peinke said.

“I probably would have retired a couple of years ago, but it’s too much fun coming to work, so I do.”

Meanwhile, new market entrant Mi Casa Property Boutique has started trading with an all-female staff, but it is the decision to connect with community groups that demonstrates a more unique side to the business.

It is donating between $200 and $500 from each home sale to one of three charities – child abuse recovery group Parkerville Children and Youth Care, refugee service ASeTTS, and mental health group headspace.

The business, launched by Sue Pember two months ago, has secured a small book of listings, with a focus on helping clients prepare for open homes by offering childcare as well as ‘clutter cutters’ and stylists.

Ms Pember said she expected to add more staff to meet demand.

“We’re actually looking to employ even more working mothers,” she said.

“Most people when they think about real estate agents they think of a flash car rocking up, a bloke in a suit, that kind of thing, and I think we can really offer a lot more than that.”

Ms Pember found success with a mostly female staff model in her relocation services business, Aussie Orientation Services.

Having worked as a real estate agent 15 years ago, she has handed over management of AOS to employee Renee Jefferys in order to focus on Mi Casa.

Susan Lam, who already had her real estate agent’s licence came across from AOS, while Ms Pember hired some friends she originally met in mothers’ group.

Ms Pember said she hoped her newest business venture would further demonstrate what working women could achieve.

“My real passion is working women,” she said.

“Studies have shown the productivity of mothers in the workplace is through the roof ... but there are so many working mothers out there who get a raw deal.

“What we’ve really proven over the past five years in business is that women can really do it, we can have families and run successful businesses at the same time; and I think real estate really lends itself to that, because it can be flexible if you have a really strong team to support you.”

See more on universities encouraging women back to work after having children here

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