REAL real estate agents – Patricia Payne – Women in real estate

REAL Real Estate Agents Interview Series

What was it like working in real estate as a female in days gone by?

I started in real estate back in 1993.  Back then, it was a male dominated industry.

When I stared going well I had a few male real estate agents that would quite often insist on making sexist remarks.

I had to earn their respect and I think I did earn it.  I worked bloody hard.  In some ways I felt I had to work harder than the men to be successful. That was probably some of my beliefs and my sheer determination.  It also came with sweet victory.

Lisa B.

What was it like as a female in real estate agent back in 1967?  Times were certainly different back then.

Today we talk to Pat Payne Co-Director and company secretary – Paynes Real Estate Est 1972.  


Patricia Payne

Director and company secretary – Paynes Real Estate Est 1972.  


  1. Why did you begin your career in real estate?

I returned to full time employment in 1967 to “recoup” financially the amount of ‘very high” taxation being paid by my husband John.  With a mortgage and 3 young children we were motivated to stay “in front”  both personally and financially.  Positions for women were not ‘too hard’ to secure at that time.


  1. How did you begin your career in real estate?


Early 1967, I secured an office position with Hedley Johnson Pty Ltd. at Kiama.  It was only 15 minutes drive from home.  I had a second hand Holden to drive so I was lucky in that regard.  After 6 months, I was promoted and every Monday began Rent Collecting ‘at the door’ from Kiama, Shellharbour, Lake Illawarra to Albion Park. Receipt book and money bag with me in the car. I was now the property manager, collecting, banking, leasing and lodging inspection reports…. everything but the Trust Accounting.

In 1969 I began Managing, the Hedley Johnson’s Shellharbour Office.  I had a junior male salesman with me.


  1. How many children did you have at the time and what were their ages?

In 1967, I had three 3 children.  At the time they were seven, six and four.  The two older ones were at School and the 4 year old was in private care near home.  It was handy when husband/father John was on roster shifts.


  1. Can you recall:   

The home loan interest rate?


In 1960 our first home interest rate was at 9%. Finance Co. funds on a 2500 Pound loan.

In 1970 our newly built home in Shellharbour Village, 4b/r, rumpus, 2 car double storey, was financed at 4.5% from Kembla Building Society – $15,000 at $118.00 pm.   The block was purchased in 1968  for $1750.00 and the build cost $18,000.

In 1972 we purchased a commercial property in Wollongong central for $90,000.00 and  was financed privately via solicitors, at 6.5%.         


Property Managers Salary

Property Managers salary in 1968 was approximately $125.00 pw.   Plus car/fuel.

Bookkeeper’s salary

Bookkeeper’s salary in 1968 was approximately  $85.00 to 95.00 pw.


The weekly cheapest and highest rent collected for those properties you recall –


The cheapest weekly rent in 1968. $1.90 to $2.50 pw.”pegged” protected tenants in aged timber terrace houses in Kiama (7) houses in terrace.


The highest weekly rent in 1968. $14.80…fully furnished – substantial 3 bedroom timber house in Kiama with professional tenants.


  1. Where did you study for your RE licence and how long was the course?


Study was through the REI of NSW.  It was a 2 year course with supervised and controlled written exams each year.   To be qualified for your licence it was 2 years registration in Real Estate Sales.


  1. As a working mum, how often did you buy prepared meals or take away meals for the evening family meal?  How did you juggle the children?


Household was kept ORGANISED..  We paid for the house to be fully cleaned  and the ironing done each week.  There were NO prepared or take away meals.  We had dinner at dining table each night.   John – capable handy cook. Children’s extra activities, sports, music etc had to be at weekends ONLY.   We had no sleepovers. Security and safety of children paramount.


  1. What year did you start in real estate and what roles have you had? (and what areas have you worked in? Residential? Rural?)


Prior to marriage  – Accounting at Newcastle  for Newcastle Permanent Building Society.

1967 – Hedley Johnson Pty Ltd in Kiama. Residential , rural, and commercial.

1972 – Owner Licensee – Family agency with husband John at Warilla NSW.

     John  -“outstanding” salesman.  Me – “backroom girl” with accounting, documentations, adverts, etc.

1979 – Son Gerard joined family agency.

1987 – Gerard became the Manager… I was still the backroom supervisor.

2000 – We closed the Shellharbour office.

2001 –  Opened Raine & Horne franchise in Pyrmont. Sydney.   I am the Licensee for the family company.

2017 – I’m still the licensee for the Family Company.


  1. Real Estate was male dominated occupation when you started, how did you adjust to an environment of chiefly men and few women?

What was it like as a woman in real estate?

No adjustment necessary for me entering this male dominated industry.  Hedley Johnson himself was my mentor and keen promoter of women.   With a female accountant managing both offices for him, he also hired female salespeople after I resigned.


I was with the right people.  They encouraged me in an industry that I was motivated and truly interested in.  I was aware of one other female salesperson in the late 1960’s/early 70’s at Kings Real Estate Wollongong.  She was a 10/10 salesperson, a natural.

As a woman in Real Estate at that time, I knew I was treading on NEW GROUND,  but I loved it,.  It was Exciting, Interesting, Profitable, Rewarding emotionally & so Satisfying to see other people succeed in securing their homes, or investments.  I have always been property minded with my Building Society background I was genuinely motivated to see homeownership for families.


Instances of male antipathy and chauvinism were few but here are some..

  1. I remember a local agent being blatantly rude.
  1. A tenant with serious money and personal problems.. both these men stand out in  memory.    Exceptions though, not the rule.  


Courtesy and Professionalism I found always seemed to manage the MEN.


Women I found at the beginning were often the most critical of me, as a full time working mother, ( How can you.??)  and of course some “green eyed emotions’ and words from those  ever present envious females.  BUT  I was not going to change the path I had stepped onto and I am happy to say today, I am pleased that I stayed the course.


  1. What do you / what did you love about real estate?

What I love about the Real Estate Industry, is the opportunities available to everyone in the industry to enhance their own lives as well as the lives of  the SO MANY  other people that they come in contact with, because they are IN this industry.  Being of service to assist people along the way in life, with home ownership, business establishments, investments, is a great privilege and also a great responsibility and the rewards are boundless. One of the most exciting and rewarding industries for anyone to spend the years of their working  life.


  1. What would you change about the real estate profession if you could?







  1. Are there any tricks or systems that you had to invent to manage certain issues in real estate?


Tricks and Systems.. managing certain issues, must begin with  REMEMBERING  names, situation, etc.of your CLIENTS.   This is SO IMPORTANT, they are paying you a LOT of money…they are NO 1.

PRIVACY – no gossip of personal problems of anyone etc…STAY  detached from the tittle tattle…



STAY Politically, economically informed, and keep up to date with local activity, re councils, businesses, developments, etc.




  1. After all these years… would you still recommend real estate as a career?


After ALL these years I would STILL recommend Real Estate as a career for ANYONE.  WITHOUT a DOUBT.. Ideal for married women with children,  C21st communications IS A BOON to the industry.  Income possibilities are most attractive. Single girls can make a great lifetime career earning well above average salaries than they can elsewhere.  Men in the industry also have the same opportunities as we women… SO….YES..I would highly recommend a career in Real Estate.

  1. What advice would you give other women in real estate – either those just starting out or those in established careers?


ADVICE I would give – HONESTY first and always.

Earn your income.  There is NO free lunch in this industry.

EDUCATE yourself continually.  

Be COURTEOUS  always.

Cultivate a professional behaviour, in actions and appearance..

and REMEMBER  that today’s client you should be working to keep in YOUR little black book for years to come.


  1. As a retired small business owner & grandmother here today, what are your general observations about Australia’s small business houses?


Australian small business owners I note as two groups-


  1. Migrant families who work at “business”  that is always ‘ON” service, working with full attention to clients requests, either in retail, food outlets, trades etc..


  1. Home grown Australian family small businesses, many thinking they have “bought a job”, casual attitudes to appointments, service, etc… tradies whose wives cannot take and transfer simple messages.


There is a marked difference between the two scenarios.


Also I would point out the “ignorance” of many in small business who fail to educate themselves on legal and financial responsibilities AND COME TO GRIEF because of this.


  1. How important is income protection insurance when both parents are working?


INCOME PROTECTION INSURANCE is IMPERATIVE when both parents are working, as often they have taken on extra financial obligations…that HAVE to be MET.   


A NO Brainer… EVEN so for the Principal sole earner it’s a good safety net always.


Lisa B. is your coach on demand
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