Since its inception in the late 1700s, women have been a part of the real estate industry, but it wasn’t until the 1840s that it was established as a legitimate business. In those early years, a woman’s role was much different than it is today; her duties consisted of filling office and clerical roles while her male counterparts were out selling. Fast forward 40 years later and women began moving, albeit slowly, into the roles of agents or brokers.

 

According to the National Association of Realtors (NAR), approximately 67% of all certified realtors are women. But that wasn’t always the case, especially during the first few decades of NAR’s existence. Founded in 1908, membership was 100% male but by 1910, the organization saw its first woman member, Corrine Simpson. Soon after others began to follow in her footsteps although they were still in the minority during the first few decades. One of the reasons for the low numbers was due to NAR’s membership being restricted to brokers only, while women, at that time were primarily sales agents.

 

It wasn’t until 1973, when NAR opened up their membership to include sales agents, that those numbers rose and continued to steadily increase. By 1978, the majority of NAR members were women and in 1996, four years after the organization saw its first female president, did women represent the majority of broker licenses for the first time.

 

The real estate industry itself has transformed substantially, and each year the percentage of women continues to grow, bringing with them innovation and change. While women are leading the charge when it comes to the residential real estate market, commercial real estate, an area that has long had a history of being dominated by men is still lagging behind. While top-level positions have been maintained by men, improvements are being made to change those statistics thanks to initiatives in place to help address disproportions and develop women’s leadership skills.

 

Katherine Pontone, a Board Member of Brooklyn MLS, has been in the business since 1982 and can attest to the indifferences that existed between women and men. “In the past, the women took a back seat, they weren’t leaders,” says Pontone. “As time progressed, women became more vocal and present; instead of being agents, women are becoming brokers and business owners.”

 

Well respected in her field, Pontone has held multiple leadership roles throughout her years in the business, but admits, it was rare to see that happen early on. “I was fortunate,” she says.

Life as a real estate agent offers excellent earning potential and one of the most flexible schedules. It has long been an option for women looking to earn additional income, pursue a change in career, as well as work in a field where they can set their own hours.

 

When it comes to successful women in real estate, Barbara Corcoran, Founder of The Corcoran Group and currently one of the Shark’s on ABC’s “Shark Tank,” and Dottie Herman, CEO of Douglas Elliman, one of the nation’s oldest and largest real estate brokerage firms, have made an indelible mark on the industry. Both Corcoran and Herman have proven just how successful women can be in a field that was at one time male-dominated.

 

When Corcoran first started her brokerage firm in 1973, the real estate business was still a “man’s world,” but that fact didn’t hold her back. Building The Corcoran Group from the ground up, she grew her business into a billion-dollar enterprise, and in 2001 sold it for $66 million dollars.

 

Herman, recognized by Forbes magazine as one of “America’s Richest Self-Made Women” has created her own success and laid down the road map for other aspiring businesswomen to follow.

 

As women continue to dominate the industry, Barbara LaBarca, Chairwoman of Brooklyn MLS, has seen a growth in the percentage of women in real estate over the last 15 years. “It has gone from a male-focused world to the majority now being women,” says LaBarca. “Here on the Brooklyn MLS board, the past two presidents have been women, one including myself.”

 

These days, more and more women are working together to empower, encourage, and support one another as they continue to move the needle forward in the real estate industry. With March being Woman’s History Month, it’s only fitting that we continue to support, and celebrate, the many accomplishments of our fellow females everywhere.

With a new decade under way, the Brooklyn real estate market continues to remain strong. New York City as a whole is one of the hottest housing markets in the United States and from the way the New Year is shaping up, there are no signs of a decline in the borough.

A look at the statistics for both single and multi-family homes, in both price and days on market (DOM), has remained steady. The fact that it has held strong is another indicator of the Brooklyn market’s strength. The bottom line, the borough is booming and people are continuing to put down roots. Not only is it the most populous of the five boroughs in NYC, it is the second largest in size, with an estimated population of 2.6 million people.

Rich Schulhoff, CEO of the Brooklyn MLS, believes that one of the borough’s appeals is the fact that not only is it accessible to Manhattan, it is a great community to raise a family. “It is still a borough of neighborhoods,” says Schulhoff. “And I think that is the difference.”

Within Brooklyn there are many well-known neighborhoods which have gone through a revitalization or gentrification at some point over the years.  With the ever-changing times the process of change and growth promises to continue.

According to Schulhoff, a telltale sign of growth is due in part to new developments opening up within an area. “I’ve always found that when you see businesses, especially restaurants, opening up in areas that have been somewhat neglected, you know the next step is going to be people moving in and communities changing.”

 

One neighborhood in particular Schulhoff predicts is on the verge of exploding in the form of growth and development is East New York. This diverse and growing neighborhood is located in northeast Brooklyn and was once deemed “Little Pittsburgh” due to its many industrial businesses in the early twentieth century.

Settled by Dutch colonists in the 1650’s, East New York was originally founded as the town of New Lots. Unable to find room to farm in the area known as Flatbush, they came here to settle the new lots, hence the origin of the name. Streets such as Van Siclen Avenue and Wyckoff Street were named after farmers and still exist today.

Due to rezoning in 2016, East New York, a neighborhood that has not been as sought after a location as others, we will see many changes over the coming years, which all begins now. The development of affordable housing, new retail shops, community facilities, and a public plaza, will help to invigorate the economy by providing a home for new businesses along with helping families to grow and prosper.

As the neighborhood begins its transformation, some local spots to check out include:

Maxwell’s Bakery – Serving the community since 1928, the bakery was originally known as “Essential Cheesecake” during World War II but changed names in a bid to secure a contract to provide baked goods to the troops stationed at Fort Hamilton. 2700 Atlantic Avenue, Brooklyn NY  11207

Highland Park – Created in 1901, this park offers stunning views of Ridgewood Reservoir, the Rockaways, and the Atlantic Ocean. A popular spot amongst residents, the park plays an important role in the community. Designated BBQ areas make it a perfect spot for a picnic with family or friends, and for those looking for some athletic recreation, there are tennis courts, baseball fields, and handball and basketball courts. Cypress Hills Street, Brooklyn NY 11207

 Shirley Chisholm State Park – The park was named after Brooklyn-born pioneer Shirley Chisholm, the first African American Congressman as well as the first woman and African American to run for President. Resting atop the former Pennsylvania and Fountain Avenue landfills, it offers views of landmarks like the Empire State building, Verrazano Bridge, New York harbor, and Jamaica Bay. One section of the park opened up last year, with the expansion set to open up in 2021.

 

In addition to East New York, two additional neighborhoods where continued growth is projected is Greenpoint, which lies right next door to the popular Williamsburg, and Coney Island, a neighborhood that has long been synonymous with Brooklyn.

No longer just Williamsburg’s “neighbor,” Greenpoint is a destination that attracts residents due in part to its close proximity to Manhattan and more affordable housing than some of the surrounding areas.

What was once a quaint countryside is now a bustling community. Like most of the borough, the area was originally farmland and as time progressed, became a popular spot for families and workers to reside because of the abundance of factory jobs. A working class and immigrant neighborhood, it’s not uncommon now to find three generations of families living in the community.

Along with a number of great places to frequent, Greenpoint is also a popular location for both TV and film. Several shows like “Blue Bloods” house their permanent soundstages in the neighborhood’s industrial area between Greenpoint Avenue and Norman Boulevard. Other shows like, “Rescue Me,” “Boardwalk Empire,” and a scene from a music video featuring rapper Jay-Z and basketball legend Lebron James are just a few of the projects filmed here.

When looking for places to go, Greenpoint has no shortage of restaurants, trendy hotels, and watering holes to grab a drink or two. Check out some of the following:

Alameda – This beautiful neighborhood bistro has been serving up delish seasonal new American fare along with classic and modern cocktails since 2013. – 195 Franklin Street, Brooklyn NY 11222

Paulie Gee’s – This cozy pizzeria serves up some of the best pizza, soups, salads, and of course dessert. If you’re looking to grab a quick slice, you can visit their slice shop for takeout or delivery. – 60 Greenpoint Avenue (dine-in only) / 110 Franklin Street (slice shop) Brooklyn NY  11222

The Diamond – One of the few bars in Brooklyn where you can play shuffleboard, video games, grab a bite and a drink, all while keeping it causal and magical. 43 Franklin Street, Brooklyn NY 11222

Sunshine Laundromat and Pinball – Have you ever seen a laundromat that offers up pinball machines and beer? Who says doing laundry can’t be fun! 860 Manhattan Avenue, Brooklyn NY 11222

Henry Norman Hotel – Right in the heart of everything, visitors can stay at this distinct hotel offering unique loft style suites that were once home to a 19th century textile warehouse.

 

A “go-to” neighborhood for a long time, Coney Island continues to attract visitors, especially during warmer weather. During the mid-19th century, the neighborhood was a popular seaside resort town, and on busy summer days drew in millions of people between the beaches and amusement parks.

In 1916, an entrepreneur named Nathan Handwerker took advantage of the increased number of visitors and began selling hotdogs at Coney Island for a nickel each, eventually expanding his business into the world famous Nathan’s Hot Dog chain.

Today, the presence of casual new restaurants and development of hi-rise buildings are all signs Schulhoff says of more people coming into the neighborhood.

A few “staples” to check out the next time you’re in Coney Island include:

Coney Island Cyclones game at MCU park – What better way to watch a baseball game then with a view of the water. 1904 Surf Avenue, Brooklyn NY 11224

Nathan’s Famous Hot Dog eating contestHeld annually on the Fourth of July at Nathan’s world-famous establishment. 1320 Surf Avenue, Brooklyn NY 11224

Mermaid Parade – Since 1983, this annual event, invented by artists, showcases over 3,000 creative individuals from the five borough and beyond. Starts at West 21st & Surf Avenue

Luna ParkHome of the world famous cyclone, one of the oldest wooden rollercoasters still in operation. Making its debut in June of 1927, this all-time American classic ride is not for the faint of heart. Additional rides, shops, games, and dining make this amusement park the place to be. 100 Surf Avenue, Brooklyn NY 11224

Totonno’s Pizzeria Napolitano -For the past 93 years, Totonno’s has been serving the Coney Island community. Recognized as the best pizza in New York City, this neighborhood staple went through a “rebirth” after Hurricane Sandy. 1524 Neptune Avenue, Brooklyn NY 11224

Rubys Bar & Grill – Family owned and operated since 1972, Ruby’s is the oldest bar and grill on the boardwalk, and the only place where you can still walk under the original boardwalk. No visit to Coney Island is complete without a stop at this nostalgic establishment. 1213 Riegelmann Boardwalk, Brooklyn NY 11224

Margarita Island – Open all year round, this indoor/outdoor hot spot features live music, DJ, and a place to catch the latest game on TV. During the summer grab a drink at the outdoor Tiki Bar. 1105 Bowery Street, Brooklyn NY 11224

As neighborhoods such as these, as well as others, continue to prosper, Brooklyn remains a place where people want to live and the demand for property holds strong.

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