Official that VMO is now a certified women-owned business. For those of you who missed the saga that goes along with getting approved, check it out here. We are champions for women in the real estate industry, and especially those in ownership and leadership roles. So we decided to create a new section of our newsletter that highlights kick-ass women in our industry who are changing the game each and every day. Let’s start with Cait Carew.
Meet Cait Carew.
Cait is an Asset Manager (and master of all) at renowned Lake Union Partners, an urban real estate firm in Seattle, WA specializing in some of the hottest and most innovative residential mixed-use and commercial projects in metropolitan markets throughout the West. Go behind-the-scenes with Cait and learn about how she made it to where she is, what her top real estate pet peeves are (we promise you’ll never say “resi” again), and what she would put on the billboard of her life.
VMO: What is your top real estate pet peeve?
Cait: When people say “resi”. Usually it’s finance dudes who want to brag about their big office developments and how it has a component of multifamily to it. You know, finance bros who say, “Oh yeah, I’ve got some resi in the mix.” Drives me crazy.
VMO: What market(s) are you most excited about right now and why?
Cait: Salt Lake City. It’s really exciting there right now. Lake Union Partners has multiple projects going on there in various stages of development, construction, and leasing. We’re seeing that market has a great, creative energy similar to what we saw in Portland 10-15 years ago.
VMO: What one piece of advice would you give to a woman in real estate looking to climb the ladder?
Cait: This is hard. Certainly, get used to being the only woman in the room. Hopefully that will change over time, but it’s still a reality to some extent. Also, learn to trust your instincts. That’s important. If you’re wondering about something or have a gut feeling or want to ask a question, do it, because chances are someone else in the room has the same question. When I’m in a room full of older men, it used to be that I was sometimes intimidated to ask the question, but that’s how you learn. Also, more and more when you do ask the question it comes out that half the room can’t answer it or hasn’t even thought of it. Trust your instincts about questioning things.
VMO: If you could create a giant billboard for your own personal Public Service Announcement, what would it say?
Cait: “If you start with ‘Not to be creepy…’, you’re probably being creepy.” Especially in a business setting.
VMO: What is the weirdest skill or talent that has come in handy in your role at LUP?
Cait: It’s not a weird skill, but communicating is key. Using friendships and relationship communication tools in a business setting can be very helpful. For instance, I’ll often find myself saying something like, “I heard that you said X, and when you say that, it makes me think Y, and here’s how I would suggest we approach this.” When you break it down to that level, across the board, it’s always been helpful, and that’s something I undervalued a decade ago.
VMO: What does life look like for you outside of work?
Cait: Hanging out with my kids and being outside as much as possible. Trying to fit it all in.
VMO: What are you most excited about in real estate right now?
Cait: I’m really excited about complex, large scale, mixed income projects. Affordable housing is a huge issue in Seattle and density is a large part of the solution to that. One path to density is to do these creative, affordable and market rate combo projects. We’ve been excited about pushing a handful of those forward, and if we can start to establish some platforms for doing those deals, it will be a really interesting part of the solution for some of the affordability issues we’re all seeing in Seattle today. True mixed income projects are super exciting and something we need more of in Seattle.
VMO: What have been some of the top turning points in your career that got you to your role at Lake Union Partners?
Cait: Taking the job here honestly. I was the first employee at Lake Union Partners, and when I started here, I did a little bit of everything. In hindsight this job sort of seems like a big risk, going to work for a new start-up, but I was just really excited about working here. The job description was (and still is) pretty fuzzy but that’s what’s great about working for a small company. Learning to be comfortable with the ambiguity has been an evolution for me, but one I’m glad I pursued.