Josie Ralstin has been a real estate saleswoman since 1979. (( She is now a member of her brokerage firm's Multi-Million Dollar Club and has been netting annual sales commissions from $75,000 to $100,000 for several years.
Ms. Ralstin is one of an increasing number of women who are becoming leaders in real estate sales. And they are rising in the ranks of high officeholders in major real estate organizations.
"I really love the real estate business," she said. "It brings you into a working relationship with all kinds of people."
In addition to her real estate brokerage work and family responsibilities, she finds time to serve on the grievance committee of her local board of Realtors.
Today, about half of the real estate sales associates and brokers who are members of the National Association of Realtors are women. That's up from 18 percent in 1975, according to the association.
A recent survey by the Women's Council of Realtors, an affiliate of the national association, found that 28 percent of their members have ownership interests in the brokerage business in which they are licensed. Increasingly, women are becoming more active in real estate business ownership as well as positions in organized real estate.
Another significant milepost is the election of the first woman president of the National Association of Realtors. Dorcas T. Helfant, an active residential saleswoman since the mid-1960s, became the 1992 president of the 83-year-old organization, a group that now includes about 800,000 members.
"Women have been doing well in residential sales for a long time," Mrs. Helfant said, "but one of the changes I have observed recently is that we don't view sales as just a way to make money. Many more women have an entrepreneurial attitude about the business."