Going it Alone: Some High-powered Female Real Estate Execs Opt to Start Parenthood Without Partners

The Real DealMay 01, 2012
Laurie Golub always knew she wanted to be a mom, but in her 20s and 30s, she wasn’t ready.

“During those critical years, I was more focused on work,” said Golub, now in her 40s, who is the general counsel and managing director of business affairs at real estate development company Africa Israel USA.

That changed suddenly a few years ago. “I felt that, notwithstanding my incredible career and fun, exciting life, something was missing,” she said.

Golub wanted a family, and she wasn’t about to let the fact that she is single get in the way. After three unsuccessful attempts at adoption, she brought home daughter Jayda Jynx, who is now 19 months old.

“It is the happiest thing I’ve ever done,” Golub said.

The real estate market may not have fully recovered, but there’s at least one boom happening in the industry: a baby boom. Golub is one of a bumper crop of real estate women who have recently decided to become moms — often going it alone without men in the picture.
Some jobs in real estate — being a residential broker, for example — are especially well-suited to child-rearing because they offer flexible schedules and the ability to bring kids to work, these parents said. Single mom Shawn Williams, a broker at Prudential Douglas Elliman, said she frequently brings her two-and-a-half-year-old daughter to apartment showings.

“If she is not in preschool or with a sitter, I’ll say ‘No problem, I’ll do the showing and my child will be with me,’ ” said Williams, who used artificial insemination to get pregnant. “No one minds. I feel I am really lucky to have that flexibility because I can spend that time with her.”

The flip side, of course, is that a career in real estate often means being available to clients at a moment’s notice.

“I was handling a six-hour closing [when] I started having contractions,” said Core’s Reba Miller, a single mom who got pregnant at age 48 after years of trying. “This caused all sorts of anxiety for me, but we got it done and closed.” Her son, Shaun, was born shortly thereafter.

And single mom Dina Lewis, a broker at Elliman, pitched a listing only six days after giving birth in January to daughter, Hannah.
Both single and married moms agree that making it all work requires extreme organization, and said nannies and assistants are a must. But when it comes to real estate, being a mom can also yield some advantages.

Yael Dunayer of Barak Realty, who is currently expecting her third child with husband Barak Dunayer, said being pregnant actually made her a better negotiator. When she and her husband were opening the first office of Barak Realty, for example, Yael pushed vendors to stay on schedule — her schedule.

“I told people, ‘I am eight months pregnant,’ ” she recalled. ‘You must make this happen now.’ ”