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The market won’t stop them: Women go into real estate

Susan Ryerson and Sarah Stevenson might be a quarter-century apart in age but their dreams are the same as they embark on new careers.

For Ryerson, it’s what she estimates to be her sixth or seventh career path; for Stevenson, 23, and a 2008 graduate of Rio Rancho High School, it’s her first — after what she planned to be her vocation exploded in the recession.

Now, the two River’s Edge women are about to start their adventure in the world of real estate — knowing the recession hasn’t improved their prospects for success there, either.

Ryerson: People-oriented


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Ryerson really doesn’t need a job, but she’s so people-oriented and driven to be out in the world, it seemed natural.

One of her early careers was in commercial insurance.

“It was very much relation-building more than sales,” she said. “I had to find out what product they needed — and I was really successful.”

After marrying Mark Ryerson, the couple’s bread-winner, she didn’t need to have an income and got into the world of nonprofits, serving at one time as director of ReadWest in Rio Rancho and being a part of Big Brothers Big Sisters. She’s also had time in recent years to have a book (“Playful Journey for Couples”) published and call herself a “romance caterer.”

Today, she likes the challenge awaiting her, matching people and homes: “Oh, you’re gonna do great,” she said she’s been told by some friends. “I didn’t just jump in.”

Thanks to several moves and home-buying experiences, “We’ve had some real good Realtors and some not-so-good Realtors,” so she thinks knows what works and what doesn’t work in showing homes to prospective buyers.

Stevenson: Staying with homes

Stevenson left Rio Rancho to attend Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff, where she followed her passion for interior design.


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“I started with art design,” she recalled, but soon realized, “There aren’t going to be any jobs with this major.”

She then opted for elementary education before deciding teaching wasn’t a good fit.

“It didn’t work out,” she said, and left NAU after three years, short of a degree.

“I love working with people. That’s why I chose real estate,” she said, combining her zest for interior design — she watches a lot of HGTV reality shows dealing with real estate — with her passion for houses and that love of people, deciding that finding the right home for the right folks would be a good job.

Stevenson laughed as she recalled visiting a spacious Rio Rancho home when she was much younger and wanting to live there.

She currently has two jobs, working several days a week at a local tanning salon and three nights a week as a waitress at The Stage at Santa Ana Star Casino.

“At 23, it’s not a bad job,” she said of being a waitress.

She’s had some family members involved in the real estate world and believes she can be successful as she takes real estate courses at Central New Mexico Community College, which she finds “exactly the same as NAU, going to classes.”

Getting started

Ryerson already has her license and a gig with Pargin Realty ERA.

Stevenson is, for now, what she jokingly referred to as a free agent, and has yet to seek a broker with which to hang her license. “I’m keeping an open mind,” she said.

Ryerson opted to study for her license at home, after a week’s of broker’s basics.

“I studied my brains out every day for about 45 days,” she said. “I passed the national (test) and failed the state (test). The second time, I got an 88 on it (and passed).”

Both women know there’s a considerable amount of money they need to come up with en route to becoming licensed agents, and they’re well aware of the fact that selling a home today might mean getting paid several months later, after a lot of paperwork and closing.

“It takes a lot to get going,” Ryerson said. “Like any career, it’s going to take some time.”

Stevenson said she’ll complete her CNM classes in late April, and then take her exams in May. Also on tap is a two-week road trip, with stops in Baton Rouge, New Orleans, Panama Beach (Fla.), Nashville, Memphis and more.


What does their new profession hold for them?

According to, “Last year was a stellar year for the housing market. Recovery was in full steam with home prices appreciating, sales skyrocketing, foreclosures declining and mortgage rates still within an affordable range.

“The trends upped builder and consumer confidence and unleashed a fresh lease of life on the economy. … This year probably won’t be as exciting, according to the USA Today. Mortgage rates are expected to climb, making home-buying less affordable for many potential buyers. There also won’t be any double-digit price gains, according to the report, and home sales will likely remain at the same level as 2013.”

But these women won’t let that deter them from their first step in what might be a long journey.

“All (my previous jobs) have led to this,” Ryerson says. “I almost went into real estate 15 years ago, (but) my dad got sick.”