We all know that men and women approach most everything in life slightly differently—and sometimes, wildly differently. How does this affect the way they each do business?
Rarely do you get a data set that reveals much about that question, but here’s a remarkable one from the data-viz wizards over at Trulia, the real estate listings website. They took a look at the gender balance between real estate agents across the country, and the results are pretty remarkable.The first thing to note is that real estate, in general, is a woman-dominated field; on average, in every state in the country, the ratio of women to men approaches 2:1. Now, you can hypothesize about all sorts of reasons why that is; for example, perhaps women come off as more trustworthy to women and less threatening to men, each of which can make all the difference in a life-defining purchase such as a home. Or perhaps women, with their edge in intuition and empathy, simply make better sales people. Or perhaps the dominance of women is about sociological pressures: Real estate, historically, might have been a more amendable profession to the demands of balancing worklife and child rearing, and one avenue where women never had their career advancement limited by their sex, since the profession is filled with free agents.
All of these are worth keeping in mind as we get into the data. Because the fascinating thing is that while women dominate the field, men tend to put up a greater number of houses for sale, while women put more expensive houses for sale. Here is what the state-by-state breakdown looks like for numbers of houses put up by men vs. women:
As the chart shows, in most states across the U.S., the average male real estate agent puts up at least 5-14% more houses for sale than his female counterpart; in many states, such as Nevada, Oregon, and Minnesota, male real estate agents usually put over 25% more houses on the market.
Meanwhile, here is what the chart looks like when you look at the average prices of homes listed by women vs. men:
The relationship is totally flipped. Women tend to sell houses that are markedly more expensive than those sold by men, and the trend is, in fact, even more intense across all states.
This is amazing data, and it’s fun to think about what’s driving it. Perhaps it takes a "high-touch" selling approach to sell more expensive homes—one which suits women more. And perhaps men adjust to their lower commissions simply by increasing the volume of their sales. Men may be great in increasing the volume of sales simply because they sell differently: Emphasizing relative prices and the market and data, perhaps. A more analytical approach, of course, would probably yield a quicker sale, since it’s less about getting people to stretch a little for a more perfect home and more about a very straightforward comparison of data. (For anyone who wants to accuse me of sexism or gender stereotyping, I can list many, many studies that show that men, for example, make more buying decisions based on data while women emphasize personal connections.)
At the very least, you can surmise that the differences you see above are unlikely to be accidents. Whatever is driving them, they’re more likely a function of men and women using their different strengths to approach sales differently.