More women are turning to real estate for a career opportunity and as a form of investment.
Real estate brokerage is particularly appealing for women in the current market. It offers the potential for large earnings and is a field in which women have the opportunity to earn as much as men.
Also, it offers flexible hours. Though it requires a great deal of work, it is not a firm 9-to-5 job. Mothers often can plan their workday around child-care needs.
Good with first-time buyers
One of the most active segments of real estate brokerage is the sale of homes to first-time buyers. And female brokers and sales representatives have excelled in that area.
Women already make up a majority of the National Association of Realtors (52 percent), and their numbers are increasing.
The possible disadvantages of a real estate career for women include the need to work evenings and weekends, the uncertain income, security risks and increasing competition. Many women obtain their real estate licenses, work in the field for a few months, then drop out.
However, many other women succeed.
When companies honor their top producers, many are women.
As for investment opportunities, women are advised to invest in real estate by Judith Briles, a nationally known financial consultant and author. Her recommendations are detailed in her book "Money Guide for Women" (Regal Books).
"One of the highest investment returns you can get is in real estate," Ms. Briles says, making a strong case for investing in
Risks and opportunities
"The amount of money made on real estate investments has increased steadily, sometimes with great leaps and bounds. At other times, just a few percent a year."
She points out risks and opportunities with well-documented cases. And she emphasizes that the best of all real estate investments is a personal residence.
"The advantages of real estate begin with the fact that land and buildings are solid, visible, easily understood," she writes. "The intrinsic value of real estate is as old as humanity itself. As early as 1400 B.C., Moses recognized that wealth and value resided in land."
Among the specific types of real estate investments discussed by Ms. Briles are fixer-upper homes, purchased as rental properties or for reselling at a profit.
"If you have an eye for turning ugly ducklings into swans, look for the junker on the block, maybe the least attractive home in the immediate area. Make a low offer to the seller.
"It's amazing what a fresh coat of paint, a few days' worth of cleaning and $100 in garden plants will do for the value of a home. Appraisers seem to love the orderliness and color that plants bring to a home."
Q: Are federally insured reverse mortgages now available for senior homeowners?
A: Yes, these special mortgages for homeowners 62 and over are available in 39 states. For information, call a local lender or a regional office of the Federal Housing Administration.
Q: Is this a good time for a first-time homebuyer to make a purchase?
A: The first-time buyer's purchasing power is now in a healthy range, according to a recent report from the National Association of Realtors.
This is primarily the result of low interest rates and a weakening of the housing market in most regions.