Does gender matter in commercial real estate transactions? In “Is Commercial Real Estate Gendered?,” published in the Journal of Real Estate Research, Culverhouse’s Drs. Alan Tidwell, Sandra Mortal, and Vishal K. Gupta, along with Dr. Eren Cifci (now at Austin Peay State University), tackled that very question, publishing the first empirical investigation of gender inequities within commercial real estate transactions.
The researchers started with a dataset of U.S. office building transactions from 2016-2018. They then used a software application to identify the gender of buying and listing real estate agents, as well as buying and listing clients, based on their names. Then, they studied differences in factors such as property price and volume between genders.
They found that properties with female buying and listing agents sold at significantly lower prices than those of males. They also observed that men tend to deal in higher-end properties. When they adjusted for property attributes, the researchers found no significant difference between male and female agents in price or time on the market.
The researchers learned that female agents complete fewer transactions than males, and one possible reason for this is homophily, or a preference for transacting with those of the same gender. In other words, male buyers and sellers prefer to work with male agents, while female buyers and sellers work more with female agents. So the gender of buyers and sellers often mirrors the gender of their respective agents. Most buyers and sellers of commercial real estate are men, so the findings are biased by the male-dominated nature of the sample.