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Representation in Real Estate

Women help direct the future of Vail Valley real estate.

The Vail Board of REALTORS® (VBR) is well-represented by female real estate agents, with approximately 50 percent of its membership being women. With March being Women's History Month and including International Women's Day on March 8, it seems a good time to spotlight a few female VBR members.

The VBR is the local board of the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR). NAR members are real estate agents, called Realtors®, who subscribe to a strict code of ethics.

NAR was founded in 1908 with the objective of uniting "the real estate men of America." Women began joining NAR shortly after that but

remained a minority in the organization for the first few decades. No longer a minority, women make up 62 percent of NAR membership, according to the 2023 NAR Member Profile.

Women have been involved in leadership in the real estate profession. NAR has had eight female presidents, while VBR has had 15 female agents serve as chair of its main board. This doesn't include any female leadership of its affiliate boards - the Vail Multi-List Service and the Vail Board of REALTORS® Foundation.

Those 15 females include Cara Connolly, Vail Board of REALTORS® Chair. As part of the VBR Board, Connolly helps direct and strengthen the association's events, services, member offerings, and strategic plan initiatives.

Finding Success

For Connolly, real estate is second nature to her, as she's been around it her entire life. Her father was a small business owner with investment properties.

"I have an early memory of roller skating with my friends in a warehouse property my dad had just bought," recalls Connolly.

Cara Connolly, REALTOR®

Cara Connolly, REALTOR® and 2024 VBR Chair

Along with this fun childhood memory, Connolly remembers watching and learning how her dad managed the properties. She also participated in the hard work, including painting and sweeping up properties.

In 2008, she became licensed to buy and sell real estate in Colorado. She focused on residential sales with Slifer Smith & Frampton.

"I wanted to broker my own transactions," says Connolly. "I wanted to represent myself."

While some real estate agents seem to be born into the profession, others come to it through personal or professional interests and needs. Realtor® Emeritus Kathy Cole had returned to the Vail area as a single mom when real estate was suggested to her.

"It was a tough time," recalls Cole. "I had two small children and was an RN. There were a lot of single women having to make a living."

Cole was drawn to the flexibility of real estate and has been a successful agent with Coldwell Banker since 1983. This includes opening and managing a brokerage and representing Realtors® on the local, state, and national levels. Cole was VBR president in 1996, served on several education committees, and was a faculty member with the Colorado Association of REALTORS®. During this time, Cole was named "REALTOR® of the Year" and earned REALTOR® Emeritus status. She has an extensive resume of experience and found her niche in education and representing resort areas.

"There really wasn't education specific to resort areas," recalls Cole. "Classes were tailored to other areas, like suburbs or cities. So, we formed an alliance with resorts in different states to determine how we could help each other."

Educating and Supporting Others

Cole and others organized and funded the first forum for resorts, which was hosted in Vail. It was then that NAR recognized the specific needs of resort areas. It also helped that Cole found herself in an advantageous place during the conference.

"We were out to dinner in Vail with the executive committee and the NAR president," recalls Cole. "And I bent their ears on why a resort

Kathy Cole, REALTOR®

Kathy Cole, REALTOR® Emeritus and past VBR chair.

committee and specific education was crucial."

The feedback and hard work led to the Resort and Second Home Specialist certification, or RSPS, created specifically for Realtors® who specialize in buying, selling, or managing properties for investment, development, retirement, or second homes in resort, recreational, or vacation destinations. The RSPS is a certification the VBR highly recommends for area Realtors®, and it is part of its Vail Pro Designation. The Vail Pro is an educational program created exclusively for VBR members to increase their knowledge in the real estate industry to become local experts.

Cole was one of the first 100 Realtors® nationwide to earn the RSPS and one of the first VBR members to earn the Vail Pro.

"I believe in education," says Cole. "I can never know enough. Being a faculty member made me a better Realtor, and I always made sure the education we provided benefited everyone."

Know Your Medicine

As busy professionals, Cole and Connolly appreciate time management and scheduling flexibility.

"I never missed school activities for my girls," says Cole. "Real estate gives you the option to pick your schedule. I would be a chaperone for a field trip and then be able to work later that evening."

Connolly agrees on the flexibility and the importance of "downtime with family."

"My clients understand when I reserve time for family," adds Connolly. "And they appreciate it. A fellow Realtor has a desk sign that says 'Know Your Medicine.' Know when to take a break for what you find most important or for what makes you enthusiastic, and then come back to work and be refreshed."

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