From left: Ruth Pokrass, Diana Bull, Michele Allyn | Credit: Courtesy

Q: Marsha, I am considering becoming a realtor. I have a husband and three children under the age of ten. Is this a realistic choice for a busy mom?

A: March is Women’s History Month, so you picked the right month to ask. My answer is a solid yes! I have been a realtor for over 25 years and it’s a fantastic career for women.

I entered real estate in the mid-1990s. I correctly saw it as a career with a flexible schedule and growth potential. My first broker had been a high school teacher. She had two children under ten years old. She created business by walking around her neighborhood, knocking on doors, and introducing herself to the neighborhood. She quickly developed a strong client base, and her real estate profession took off. She told me she never missed a family dinner, went to all her children’s school events, and volunteered at their schools. She joked that with real estate she could work her own hours, as long as it was all of her hours.

Real estate is an open and inclusive career. You must be 18 years old, take classes, and pass the California state real estate exam. Realtors come from all walks of life: former teachers, attorneys, bankers, nurses, Certified Public Accountants, as well as recent high school graduates, former day care providers, hairdressers, house cleaners, people with disabilities, and all races and nationalities. It is an inclusive profession.

Early in my career, I worked with a pioneer top sales producer who had entered the field in the 1960s. She had been a local waitress and would serve male realtors their breakfast orders. When she overheard them discussing business, she realized “I’m as organized, hard-working and intelligent as these guys.” She got her real estate license and never looked back. 

Michele Allyn was also a female pioneer in Santa Barbara real estate. She went to work at Sunset Realty at the age of 23 in the 1970s, where she was hired by Ruth Pokrass, who was an office manager and training director. Michele relays that Ruth told the story of applying for work in the 1960’s and being told, “But, honey, we already have a female in our office.”. Michele claims that her success in real estate has been due to Ruth’s mentoring, plus getting involved at the Association by serving on the Board and committees, and her desire to  do a great job. Michele is president-elect of SBAOR and will serve as president in 2024. Michele set the terms for her real estate career and raised three kids while doing it.

No discussion about women in Santa Barbara real estate is complete without mentioning Diana Bull. Diana has worked diligently to advance women and real estate at the local, state, and national level. She became a member of the Women’s Council of Realtors in 1976 and has received innumerable awards and recognitions. She was the first female treasurer of CAR and in 2020, Diana received the Distinguished Service Award from The National Association of REALTORS®. She is the first California woman to ever receive this prestigious recognition, in which only two members of NAR’s 1.6 million members are selected each year.

The first female joined the National Association of REALTORS® in 1910. Today, women represent approximately 66% of all residential real estate agents in the United States. Get your real estate license; it’s a great profession for all!

Marsha Gray has worked in Santa Barbara real estate for over 25 years. She works at Allyn & Associates, where she helps her clients buy and sell homes and with lending services. To read more of Marsha’s Q&A articles, visit Contact Marsha at (805) 252-7093 or DRE# 012102130; NMLS #1982164.


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