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LAWRENCE, KS-The down economy is creating new job options for women pursuing careers in CRE, according to recent research by Commercial Real Estate Women Network. The industry association has released a report that shows there has never been a better time to be a woman working in the field. The changing dynamics of the economy are expected to present career opportunities and advancements for women who are flexible and reposition themselves to benefit from the altered economic atmosphere.

“This piece is very timely because knowledge is power and we’re behind empowering our members and focusing on strategic decisions women can make,” Jane Smith, president of CREW, tells GlobeSt.com. “We’re in a historic time where there are some new courses to be taken and we want women to be right there in the front to do it because we think that will create systemic change in the industry. What’s going to be needed to be successful now will be different than before and that’s going to create opportunities, especially for women.”

CREW’s report, titled Repositioning Your Real Estate Career to Succeed in an Era of Change, focuses on information from 2008, but uses the data to outline guidelines for 2009 and 2010. The paper suggests that frozen credit markets will increase need for appraisers and people with experience in securities, bankruptcy, and distressed portfolio management. More government oversight will up demand for compliance experts, accountants and controllers, the data shows.

Smith says women in CRE typically are strong with such skills of asset management, appraisal and analysis, which will be of increased demand in this new environment. Smith doesn’t believe the economy has hit bottom yet, and as a result, banks will continue to take back properties and properties will increasingly change hands otherwise. The new owners will rely on advisers to help set rents that can sustain the properties.

“As we start to see the advantage of the cost-cutting and see a market price for properties reappearing, the properties are going to change hands,” Smith says. “Having special knowledge and being able to point out and analyze, you’re going to see that adviser role just become key. It’s a great time to be in that business.”

Of additional impact is CREW’s belief that the changing economy may lead to women outnumbering men in the workforce for the first time in history. “You can look at this both bearish and bullish, but the people who are going to succeed are those who reposition themselves,” Smith says. “It’s not the same resume, because you target your resume to the opportunities, and the person that has the knowledge and experience is going to be chosen. Creativity and vision are key, as are networking and associating yourself with seasoned people, keeping relationships that allow you to see new opportunities.”

CREW, which has 8,000 members across 67 national chapters, releases annual reports and will be partnering with Cornell next year to complete a benchmark study it performs every five years. “We do research because we know there aren’t that many women in commercial real estate, and there are some misconceptions that women can’t be successful in this field,” Smith says. “Our mission is to advance women in commercial real estate, and there are some reasonable things that can be done to achieve that in this industry.”

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