How being LGBTQ+ in real estate prepared her for a leadership role at Flyhomes
Renee Sandoval’s enthusiasm is infectious—and as a mother of four, her energy knows no bounds. That’s a good trait for our Flyhomes Sacramento Team Lead to have. She’s there, every day, coordinating with tour specialists, agents, and clients to ensure that their needs are met as they tour homes or prepare listings.
It’s hard to think there was ever a time when Renee wasn’t a leader in real estate, but her first steps into the industry were slow and measured—until she found her confidence. Renee faced judgement and discrimination in the early days of her career, but her experience as a lesbian with a partner, and a family to stand up for, gave her the perfect education to become a rockstar team lead.
What was it like first becoming a real estate agent for a traditional brokerage?
Stepping into a traditional brokerage, I had expectations of acceptance, motivation and great mentorship. Over time, I discovered that as long as you were in the “norm” you would “qualify” for these favorable benefits. This made me feel like I had to keep up with an image or I would never have any clients to help with real estate. I would think, if I were to change in any way, how would that affect how people treat me? I wondered what was the cost of being who I wanted to be, which was myself.
What do you mean by ‘myself’?
I buzzed my hair. It was hard to decide: do I cut my hair? Or do I leave it long because everyone else will freak out? I soon found out right after I cut my hair and started to be me, it was like ‘woah, we don’t really want to associate with you.’ One minute my team (who called me family) was there. One minute they’re not.
Why did you stay in real estate after all that?
My priority was to help clients and make them feel as safe as they possibly can with me. By comfortability, trust and loyalty. I wanted to focus on my LGBTQ community. If I can feel so uncomfortable walking into a traditional brokerage as an agent, I can only imagine how the LGBTQ clients feel when searching for help with their real estate needs.
Is that why you came to work with Flyhomes?
I chose Flyhomes because when I had my interview with my Manager and Sr. Director of field operations I felt completely comfortable. There was absolutely no judgment and in fact we mostly laughed. I felt like I had finally found home.
How have you evolved as a real estate professional?
First thing that comes to mind is confidence. Flyhomes welcomed my authentic self and I embraced it. The more I became myself the more I evolved by focusing on real estate instead of my appearance. The confidence gave me my juice to learn more about the industry. I led my clients with detailed information with every tour and delivered the best customer service I could.
So what would you tell other LGBTQ+ people thinking about a career in real estate?
Be you, be strong and don’t ever let anyone make you feel like you are doing something wrong by being yourself. You are not alone. Always remember the why.
Is there anything you’d still like to see change in the real estate industry?
I would love to see the real estate industry have more of an open mind on the new generation of creativity and equality not just for our LGBTQ community but for everyone. We as people are not limited and the more we grow together as one the farther we can grow to make all of us happier.