Women in real estate – tenacious and feisty

Women in real estate – tenacious and feisty

MAIN IMAGE: Nkuli Bogopa, COO of Broll Property Management; Adrian Goslett, Regional Director & CEO of RE/MAX SA; Carl Coetzee of BetterBond

Danie Keet

In August, being Woman’s Month, we will shine the spotlight on women in the real estate industry in South Africa who are movers and shakers and are taking the industry to the next level.

Early on in her career, Nkuli Bogopa recognised that the property sector has enormous potential as a catalyst for change. In her role as COO of Broll Property Management, she forms part of a growing number of women who are leading change in the real estate sector.

When Bogopa joined the company in 2018, she was initially responsible for the business’s brand positioning and tender division. “I was grateful to be given a role that cut across all divisions in the business promoting collaboration, allowing me to get to know everyone in the organisation.”

A few months later, she was appointed MD of the largest division in the group, Broll Property Management. “It was a deep sea for me to navigate and I had to quickly get my head around the different players and clients in the landscape.”

Bogopa went on to caretake one of the groups’ listed funds’ portfolios which got her even more firmly entrenched in the business. In this role, her responsibilities included taking a closer look into the portfolio and client environment, as well as the various aspects of her team’s interface with the client.

The extensive role women play in real estate is emphasised by the Global Sheconomy Research Report 2022 which stated women are emerging as the leading decision-makers when it comes to consumer spending, with real estate being one of their main focuses.

“Women tend to drive the home buying process and are more likely to scroll through listings online than their male counterparts. In fact, 61% of our website traffic comes from female users,” explains Adrian Goslett, Regional Director & CEO of RE/MAX of Southern Africa.

Carl Coetzee of BetterBond agrees ad says:  “Much of the activity in South Africa’s housing market, especially in the sectional title sector, is driven by women. Currently, female buyers account for almost 43% of our successful home loan applications – almost three times more than in 2010 when only 14% of successful applicants were women. Although South Africa still has work to do when it comes to gender pay parity – UASA puts the median gender pay gap at between 23% and 35% – women are earning more than they did 10 years ago. Given that women are less likely to default on their credit payments, according to 2021 data from Experian, and 51% of credit active consumers are women, which helps when applying for a bond, it’s not surprising that women account for a significant portion of BetterBond’s successful bond applications.

Before joining the company, Bogopa had acquired more than 20 years of experience in the real estate industry, much of it on the technical side. An architect by profession, she transitioned from the hard-core built environment into the real estate corporate services space via facilities management.

A common thread throughout Bogopa’s career is never finding any task or role she is assigned beneath her. “If I’m intentional about the direction I want to take, even if it means scaling back a bit, I will do it to gain inroads into the area. Patience and focus on pursuing what you’re after are vital.”

While operating in a highly male-dominated industry has proved challenging at times, Bogopa’s sheer passion for the sector meant that no amount of pushback was going to hold her back. In addition, her tenacious nature means that no situation is too difficult for her to overcome.

Her advice to young women in the industry is to stay the course. “Female architects only make up about 12% of the profession. I find this perplexing. I expect that many of the women find the challenges insurmountable and decide to walk away, which is sad. I would advise them not to give up, especially if they are passionate about the industry. Only then can women begin to make a dent in the parity gap.”

Bogopa currently forms part of a 100% female executive within her team. “Our EXCO is diverse and vibrant. I have found that our diversity has resulted in a greater number of ideas and less of a one-minded approach, while still being able to lead ourselves toward a common goal.”

The greatest advice she offers to young people who want to make their mark in the property industry is to not view any function or task as being beneath them. “Work is not exclusively about fireworks or bells and whistles. It’s the seemingly mundane functions that we do every day that are the core of the business.”

“Many young people fail to connect the dots in terms of how they fit into the bigger picture. For example, many do not recognise the crucial role a leasing manager plays in terms of the value of an asset and, ultimately, the profitability of the organisation and value-add to shareholders.”

“My advice this women’s month is: we all must start somewhere, so wherever you start, make sure you put all your heart into it and become so excellent at it that you become an expert in that field. Do not take for granted any role that you are entrusted with. Look for a mentor that will faithfully mentor you – a strong mentor can change the trajectory of your career,” she concludes.

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