InsightsClosing the gap: The power of women in the single-family rental industry

Many women have successfully navigated the SFR space and achieved success...

The untapped potential for women in the single-family rental (SFR) industry is substantial. Hear from two women very active in the space who encourage other women to get involved.

The single-family rental business and real estate investing in general has historically had disproportionately male participants. Recent data shows that more women are entering the space than in previous years, but opportunities remain for growth. Studies show that women are less willing to take financial risks than men, with 53 percent of the gap being caused by women’s higher loss aversion. As the single-family market continues to stabilize, there is a lot of potential, especially for women, to get involved in the investment space. Following the footsteps of other women in the space may encourage them to make the leap.

We talked to two women who work in the SFR space at ServiceLink about the inspiration behind their involvement in the field, and how they got started.

Q: Zippia reports that only 32 percent of real estate investors are women. What inspired you to get involved in this space?

“I spent many years in operations working on the default side at ServiceLink with clients who were servicing loans. When the opportunity to take the position of vice president of client portfolios for single-family rental services was presented to me, I immediately knew I wanted to take the role and learn as much as I could in this space.” Eileen Richmond, vice president, client portfolios, says. “I found SFR to be an exciting professional challenge for me to understand the market, build relationships and create opportunities. I was drawn to the fast pace in SFR; I love that each client with whom I work has unique needs and that we can tailor our services to meet each of their requirements.”

Lorraine Perez, assistant vice president, single-family rental, had a different journey. “I didn’t deliberately enter the SFR space. It was more something that found me as an attorney with a property, real estate and title insurance background. I found that I enjoyed the size of the transactions and their complexity. While many investors acquire one property at a time, I was fortunate enough to work with investors buying or selling hundreds or thousands of properties in a single transaction.” While the focus on SFR was unexpected, the pace of the work was enticing for Perez. “There were always a lot of moving parts to bring together for a single closing. Bringing it all together so the transaction ultimately closed quickly and seamlessly appealed to me, and still does.”

As Perez wrote recently in REI INK, “There is no one size fits all with real estate investing. It is a vast space with many different avenues to explore.”

Q: Have you seen more women enter the SFR space – either as service providers or investors? Why?

“I have seen an expansion of women entering the SFR space from Main Street to Wall Street. There has been growth with women in higher leadership roles, on boards, and in virtually every aspect of lending and investing.” Richmond says, “At ServiceLink, many of our senior executive leadership roles are held by women and our SFR operation is primarily led by women. I believe more and more women are entering the SFR space because it is an exciting and fast-growing segment of the housing market with much opportunity for success in investing, finance and supporting services.”

While there are some positive signs pointing to diversification in the field, there is still progress to be made. When asked why there’s less involvement from women than their male counterparts, Perez says, “Some may not see the full potential and income growth opportunities available in creating a real estate portfolio.” Not only is the lack of awareness potentially keeping women from engaging, but fear also plays a factor. “For many others, I think fear of making the wrong deal and losing their investment is keeping them away. Perhaps they hesitate because of a general lack of confidence in their abilities to negotiate a deal favorable to them.”

While both men and women face the factor of fear involved in the investing space, women may be less likely to take risks, which is why these numbers are starting show a gap. Aside from risk aversion, women have other obstacles to face – and have the tools to overcome them.

Q: What unique challenges or experiences do women investors face?

“I can’t speak for all women in this space, but research shows that bias exists across industries, including the real estate field, making it more difficult for women to find mentors, create networks and obtain a lending partner they can work with,” says Perez.

Despite these challenges, women have started to break through these barriers and have continued success. Richmond shares “The unique challenge that women residential real estate investors face is the underrepresentation of women in leadership roles. However, women are working together to change that by promoting diversity. Many SFR-focused women’s groups have been formed with a mission to empower women to achieve their professional potential and work towards gender equality by connecting women at every stage of their career. These groups recognize the value of inclusion and fostering a culture of fairness and respect, which has helped open the door for women real estate investors.”

A way to combat these challenges is to lean on one another. “There are many women that have successfully navigated the SFR space and achieved success. I think it’s important for women interested in SFR to seek each other out, be supportive of one another, educate themselves about the market and be persistent in every aspect of the real estate deal,” said Perez.

Take the jump and get started!

While the risk may seem scary, the reward is worth it. The opportunities are extensive and flexible. Women entering the space can look to providers, like ServiceLink, with women in leadership roles who are ready to support the growth of their business.

For more information on ServiceLink’s investor solutions, visit

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