Women Leaders Of Real Estate: Elizabeth Convery of VERY Real Estate On The 5 Things You Need To Succeed In The Real Estate Industry

An Interview With Jason Hartman

Jason Hartman
Authority Magazine
13 min readJun 9, 2022


Surround yourself with excellence — They say you are the product of the five people you hang out with most. I make it a point to only devote my time to people who lift me up and who want success and growth for their lives, just like I do. I have lost so many friends since starting this business. Not because they were bad people, but simply because they weren’t going where I was going and that’s okay.

As a part of my series about strong women leaders of the Real Estate industry, I had the pleasure of interviewing Elizabeth Convery, 39, is founder of VERY Real Estate, a boutique residential real estate firm specializing in sales and advisory based in Philadelphia. She has valued, financed, acquired or sold over $2 billion worth of properties in a career spanning nearly 20 years. She believes homebuyers deserve a commitment to transparency and trust from their real estate agent and that home ownership is a path to building wealth over time. Elizabeth has particular expertise in working with first time home buyers and is passionate about raising the homeownership rate among her Millennial peers.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us the “backstory” about what brought you to the Real Estate industry?

Spring semester of my junior year of undergrad, I was sitting in a Management class when the professor paused to tell us she had been hearing that students were feeling stressed about finding a summer internship and unsure where to even start. She encouraged us to take something that we like, couple it with our major, and get a job in that field. Such simple advice, yet so profound to me at the time.

I had always had an interest in real estate. Growing up, we lived in a rapidly growing suburb in South Jersey. Farms were being turned into subdivisions and most weekends, my parents would pack my brother and I into the car and take us to see the model homes. I loved it! I remember being ten years old and knowing how to read a floor plan and drawing houses on computer paper. So, I combined real estate with my Finance degree and Googled for that first internship. In 17 years, I’ve never left the real estate industry.

Can you share with our readers the most interesting or amusing story that occurred to you in your career so far? Can you share the lesson or take away you took out of that story?

Shortly after I started my business, I connected with a real estate investor who bought and flipped properties throughout the city. He asked to see a house in an area of the city I wasn’t very familiar with. When I arrived for the appointment, he had a crowd of investment partners and their various contractors with him. We entered the house to find the electricity was turned off. Here we are a group of eight people or so using our phones as flashlights and walking the property. As we toured the first floor, we heard some rustling noise in the kitchen. All of a sudden, our flashlights revealed a rottweiler in a cage under the kitchen counter. The dog just about lost its mind with all the lights shining in its face. Half the investors scurried out the front door, but as the realtor, where could I go? I kept the tour going as we walked the second and third floors assessing the opportunity the house might present. By the time we descended to the first floor, I had forgotten about the dog until it heard our footsteps and started barking so ferociously that the cage was moving across the kitchen floor. Without thinking, I grabbed the arm of the closest investor! Not my finest moment as an “independent woman” to say the least. He looked over and said “don’t worry, I have a gun if the dog gets out of hand.” We made it safely out of the home and the investor team ultimately decided this deal wasn’t right for them. Recognizing dark houses, rottweilers and guns were not my scene, I quickly figured out my client avatar and shifted my business away from investors and toward first-time home buyers.

Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you think that will help people?

Yes! I am exploring the reasons behind why the Millennial homeownership rate lags the average homeownership rate in America so significantly (43% versus 65%). As a member of this generation and recognizing the significant wealth homeownership can build over time, I am particularly fascinated with why more of my generation isn’t diving into owning property. Through my research and years of experience working with this generation, I have uncovered that their lack of motivation is largely driven by a fear of commitment. I am building a social media presence to help coach them through this fear by providing tips, tools and tricks I’ve learned along the way. I hope my work will impact the long term financial wealth of my generation.

What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?

VERY Real Estate was built on the principles of hospitality and that level of care drives everything that we do. By focusing on the needs of our clients and putting those needs and the client’s experience above the sale itself, we build lasting relationships that ultimately drive more sales.

We have a core value at VERY: Sometimes the truth hurts, but we tell it anyway. I remember many years ago, I had a client who was ready to write an offer to purchase a gorgeous double-wide townhome on one of the premier streets in Philadelphia. They loved this house. It checked so many boxes for them. As we were preparing our due diligence, we learned that an easement existed granting the owners of the townhomes on the street behind this street to walk through their yard through the adjacent gate to the premier street ahead. The easement was put in place when the rear townhomes were built. I tapped into a title guy I knew well to pull the deed and give us more clarity. Through many discussions, I told the clients that despite how wonderful this house might be, if they can’t get comfortable with the possibility that neighbors may walk through their yard, this is likely not the property for them. It was a hard blow as the house was a dream. They decided not to write an offer. But, ultimately, their trust in me grew deeper through my honest assessment and candid coaching. Since this encounter, these clients have bought or sold five properties with me and they’ve become dear friends.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

After grad school, I was working in NYC selling luxury hotels. Despite this seemingly glamorous job, I was miserable. I didn’t feel fulfilled. I wanted to make a difference in people’s lives and I kept trying to find ways to do that. The volunteering and donating I was doing wasn’t doing the trick. I remember my light bulb moment came when I realized I could make an impact everyday by transitioning my career from commercial to residential real estate. I started exploring what this might look like. I did a ton of research, wrote a business plan, all of it. Yet, something was holding me back from making the switch. I just kept hemming and hawing. I kept calling my Dad, who had always been a huge supporter of me, explaining my ideas and talking myself out of making a move. Finally, he said “Elizabeth, I’m sick of listening to you. Will you just do it! What have you got to lose? You’re 29 years old and you know you can always go back to a corporate job if it doesn’t work.” As if that wasn’t enough, I called him back again still without a decision. It was when he said “I’ll come out of retirement and help you build it. I’ll give you a year.” I finally jumped into the entrepreneurial pool. I moved back to Philadelphia from NYC and started VERY six months later. Dad was true to his word and set up all the back office operations while I focused on the sales. His one year of helping turned into seven before he finally went back to retirement life. I am forever grateful for the kick he gave me and for the support and love he showed me in those early years.

Ok. Thank you for all that. Let’s now jump to the main core of our interview. The Real Estate industry, like the Veterinarian, Nursing and Public Relations fields, is a women dominated industry. Yet despite this, less than 20 percent of senior positions in Real Estate companies are held by women. In your opinion or experience, what do you think is the cause of this imbalance?

I think women, myself included, suffer from major Imposter Syndrome and it holds us back if we don’t tackle it head on. Too many women sit on the sidelines and wait for someone to recognize how great they are. Unfortunately, this recognition of greatness and the promotions that push women up the career ladder as a result rarely come. The 20% of women in senior positions are the ones, in my opinion, who recognize their own greatness and use their voices to propel them forward. There are plenty of days when I don’t feel great or am dealing with major self-doubt, but I get up and show up. Showing up is not just doing the work in front of you, it’s being a leader and an example of greatness to those around you. I’ve made it my mission to awaken this greatness in women and bring them up with me. Competitiveness among women contributes to low rates of women in senior leadership roles. Until we treat other women as allies rather than threats, we won’t collectively rise.

What 3 things can be done by a)individuals b)companies and/or c) society to support greater gender balance going forward?

  1. We absolutely must tackle what I’ll call the “care conundrum”. The responsibilities of care for children and aging parents primarily fall on women, yet there is little flexibility in the workplace to make room for the time it takes to get a child off to school or to get a meal over to an aging mother who lives alone for example. Creating an environment with flexible work hours can help both women and men live more fulfilling lives and focus better at work. I call this work/life blend and celebrate it with my team. It’s often that I’ll call a team member in the middle of the day and she’s on a soccer field with her daughter watching her game and I think that’s just fabulous.
  2. We need to lead by example to show our children that traditional male or female roles simply don’t exist like they did when we were growing up and that is perfectly okay. My husband actively participates in the housework and cooks dinner for our family every night. I run a large team and frequently participate in conference calls while our son plays in the adjacent room. I am so proud to show our son that care and competition can and do co-exist.
  3. I think it’s very important that we don’t alienate men in the process of closing the gender divide. Gender equality requires active participation from both sexes, and in order to advance further, we need to create a safe space for active and ongoing dialogue. I’ve always been of the mindset that you get more with honey than with vinegar. Engaging men in the process certainly requires work, but I believe it ultimately leads to more cohesion, enlightenment and results!

In your opinion, what are the biggest challenges faced by women executives that aren’t typically faced by their male counterparts?

It wasn’t until I had my son that I realized the magnificent, but also daunting experience, of childbearing and the impact it could have on my career if I let it. From the choice to have a child, to the timing of it all, to the symptoms of pregnancy (I threw up everyday for weeks my first trimester!), to the recovery, to the adjustment of having a little person need you for everything, and on and on, it can be a lot. Men obviously don’t have to deal with this first hand; and these challenges, while powerful, beautiful and exciting, undoubtedly impact female executives in ways they never will for their male counterparts. I do think this additional layer of juggling competing priorities and emotions, makes women strong and impactful leaders beyond measure.

Can you share 3 things that most excite you about the Real Estate industry?

  1. Everyday I help people realize a dream
  2. Technology is entering the space in a new and exciting way
  3. Despite 17 years in the business, I still learn something new every day

Can you share 3 things that most concern you about the industry? If you had the ability to implement 3 ways to reform or improve the industry, what would you suggest?


  1. The barriers to entry are very low resulting in many inexperienced real estate agents influencing market trends and conditions
  2. Real estate brokers are not providing adequate oversight to junior agents resulting in clients who are not properly represented for the largest transaction of most of their lives
  3. Prolonged inventory shortages is making homeownership less attainable for many

Reform/improvement Ideas:

  1. Revise licensing requirements to elevate the industry
  2. Implement more real estate coaching and mentoring in the industry to properly teach people the business
  3. Incentivize developers to build workforce housing

What advice would you give to other leaders to help their team to thrive?

I’ve found that there is a trend in this business that pushes successful realtors to grow a team as their next step in the business. Yet, not everyone is meant to lead a team! It’s perfectly okay to be a strong salesperson and leave it at that. I always suggest that people only lead a team if they have a clear vision for what the team can achieve and are committed to investing in another person’s wellbeing and growth every single day. The steps to creating a thriving team are 1) a leader who sees a bigger picture, 2) getting the right people on the bus to help execute on that vision and 3) investing every day in the success of your teammates through coaching, mentoring and teaching.

Ok, here is the main question of our interview. You are a “Real Estate Insider”. If you had to advise someone about 5 non intuitive things one should know to succeed in the Real Estate industry, what would you say? Can you please give a story or an example for each?

  1. Know yourself and what makes you unique — When I started VERY, I had never sold a residential home in my life. I came from the commercial real estate world. Early on, I made a practice of doing a broker preview of a property before I showed it to a client. After all, how can I sell something if I’m seeing it for the first time when a client does. Well, you can’t imagine the pushback I got from seller agents telling me a broker preview was an absolute waste of time. I really got in my head about it. Remember that Imposter Syndrome we talked about! Anyway, I remember sitting in a Starbucks one day feeling really down about myself thinking, why did I leave NYC and what I knew to uproot my career by going into residential real estate? Then I stepped back and made a list of all the things that made me unique in this new business. I referred to that list every time I got down about myself and it made an enormous impact on my confidence.
  2. Set your boundaries — There’s this perception that realtors work all the time, and man, did I fall right into that in the beginning. I would text my clients back when they sent me messages at 10pm or I’d stop whatever I was doing in my personal life to answer a client call. It really took a toll on me. One summer, I was away with girlfriends for a bachelorette party. It was a sunny gorgeous day, yet I was miserable, because I was dealing with a “client crisis.” Let’s be real, we’re buying and selling real estate, not saving lives like a brain surgeon or ER nurse. There is nothing so important that I can’t be present for my life. I set “store hours” after that. I am available from 8:30 until 5:30pm each day and I communicate that with my clients and colleagues from the get-go. If I take calls after hours, it is on my terms. I find myself much happier and my husband enjoys it too.
  3. Surround yourself with excellence — They say you are the product of the five people you hang out with most. I make it a point to only devote my time to people who lift me up and who want success and growth for their lives, just like I do. I have lost so many friends since starting this business. Not because they were bad people, but simply because they weren’t going where I was going and that’s okay.
  4. Put others’ needs before your own — I am Jesuit educated. The Jesuits pride themselves on being a “person for others”. This mantra has served me so well in my life and I feel is often counterintuitive to this often very deal-driven, close it at all costs business. By listening to my clients and my colleagues, I lead through empathy and it has resulted in enormous success through long term relationships and repeat clients.
  5. See the big picture and build it backwards — The greatest success I’ve had in my business is building the infrastructure for what it will be one day and working backwards to get there. By taking microsteps and getting 1% better each day, I’ve been able to hit every goal over time.

Because of your position, you are a person of enormous influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the greatest amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. :-)

I would challenge Millennials to attain higher homeownership rates than their parents!

How can our readers follow you online?

Instagram @elizabeth.convery

LinkedIn @elizabethconvery

Personal website www.elizabethconvery.com

Company website www.veryre.com

Thank you for your time, and your excellent insights!

Thank you for the opportunity!