How Women-Friendly Is The Real Estate Sector?

A recent study by CREDAI-MCHI revealed that slightly more than a third (36 per cent) of women surveyed view real estate as a promising career option

File photo
File photo

On the other hand, about two-thirds (64 per cent) of men shared the same sentiment. And it’s not all rosy at the top either. Women only hold 23 per cent of the leadership positions in real estate firms. So, while the good news is that this number has improved since the last decade, the bad news is, it’s still quite low.

The stigma that the sector isn’t particularly welcoming towards women is one key cause for the existing gender disparity. “Employing women in the real estate sector has been a challenge for many years. Despite women making up a significant proportion of the national workforce, they remain underrepresented in this sector and their participation is important to bring in different perspectives and opinions, leading to more innovative and successful outcomes. To encourage women participation, stakeholders in the sector are compelled to increase their outreach efforts to attract women to the industry for various job roles,” opines Vishal Thakkar, founder and CEO of a real estate firm.

According to the National Family Health Survey (NFHS)-5, 11 of the 22 states reported a decrease in the number of women owning property.

This, even after women in India have been increasing their presence in the professional sphere as well as are being offered several homeownership-related perks, such as stamp duty and registration concession, and lower home loan interest rates. 

However, experts believe that to address this gender gap, just providing concessions and discounts is not enough. There’s an urgent need to address structural issues such as unequal pay and social norms that limit women’s access to education and employment opportunities.

Aarti Harbhajanka, managing director of a real estate consultancy firm opines, “Policywise, it is necessary to place special emphasis on enhancing property ownership for economically disadvantaged women from vulnerable sections of the society. Similar to the Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana (PMAY), which mandates joint ownership of women in all households, all government-subsidised social housing projects need to mandate women’s ownership. Similarly, slum redevelopment projects, which provide free housing should promote joint ownership of the house.”

On ground-level, to make homeownership more accessible to women, developers and state governments have a part to play by making the infrastructure around the project more women-friendly. “Infrastructure and amenities in residential areas should be improved keeping in mind the safety and convenience for women. This will include adequate lighting, public transportation, healthcare facilities, schools and recreational spaces. Having women sales representatives and estate agents also makes it favourable for a lady to approach the idea of homeownership. Security measures at residential properties should also be introduced to create a conducive environment for women to own a home and live in it. Even the developers have been prioritising women’s opinions by providing those customised choices through Women’s Day schemes, rebates or focusing on their tastes through tailor-made designs in residential apartments and amenities among others,” says Ashish Narain Agarwal, founder and CEO of a full-stack real estate service company.