Realtors saw an increase in their income in 2012 for the second year in a
row after nine straight years of losing ground The National Association of
Realtors® (NAR) said today. The median
gross income of a Realtor was $43,500 last year compared to $34,900 in
2011 (+24.6 percent). Paul Bishop, NAR vice president of
Research said the median income fell by 35 percent over the course of the
housing downturn, "but with the help of sustained increases in both home sales
and prices, it's recovered to the highest level since 2006."
NAR President Gary Thomas said the real estate business is cyclical.
"Realtors have some way to go to surpass the peak income recorded back in
2002. Interestingly, the peak wasn't during the bubble years because
there were way too many people in the business," he said. "To help smooth
out the peaks and valleys associated with residential sales, many Realtors are
diversified into related services. As a result, changes in Realtor income
don't exactly parallel changes in home sales and prices."
NAR recently surveyed 58,000 of its members about personal and business matters. The survey generated an 8.4 percent response
rate which was weighted to be representative of state-level NAR members. Realtors account for about one-half of the
active real estate licenses in the U.S but probably a much larger share of
working agents; many firms make membership a condition of affiliation with the
The median gross income of NAR members increased with experience and hours
worked and brokers earned more than those licensed as sales agents by a large
factor, $54,900 to $34,000. Those who
were in the business for more than 16 years had a median gross of $57,300 and
those who worked 60 hours per week or more had a median of $85,700. Twenty-one percent of NAR members earned a
six-figure income in 2012 and the median number of sales transactions (buyer or
seller side) was 12, up from 10 in 2011.
The median age of Realtors is 57. Only 2 percent are younger than 30 and 25
percent are over 65. Fifty-seven percent are women.
Few Realtors - only about 6 percent - started out in that field. Nineteen percent had a previous career in
management, business, or financial fields and 15 percent in sales or
retail. The "typical" NAR member has
been in real estate for 13 years, works 40 hours a week and ninety-four percent
say they will remain in the field for at least two more years.
Eight out of 10 NAR members focus on residential sales and 73 percent have
secondary real estate specialties with 18 percent offering, in addition,
commercial property management, 17 percent relocation services, and 15 percent
commercial brokerage. For Realtors who have other primary specialties, 37
percent listed residential brokerage as a secondary business.
Repeat business and referrals are important to the success of NAR members' business;
repeat business accounted for a median 21 percent of activity in 2012 and for
those in business 16 years or more nearly twice that amount. Referrals were responsible for an additional
21 percent of all business.
Most NAR members - 56 percent - are licensed as sales agents; 27 percent are
brokers, 18 percent broker associates and 4 percent appraisers (some hold more
than one license). Thirty-nine percent of Realtors hold at least one out
of six NAR certifications in specialized training and 36 percent have obtained
at least one professional designation, most commonly the GRI (Graduate Realtor
Institute). Twenty-two percent of
Realtors® belong to one or more of NAR's affiliated institutes,
societies or councils; the most common is CRS (Council of Residential
Specialists), identified by 12 percent.
Sixty-four percent of NAR members have a website as do 94 percent of their
firms. Fifty-six percent use social or
professional network sites, and 12 percent have a blog. Email is a more popular method of keeping in
touch with customers (94 percent) than the phone (90 percent) with text
messaging (74 percent) a distant third.
Eighty-three percent of members work as independent contractors for their
firms with few fringe benefits (4 percent have health insurance through their
firms, 22 percent care covered by errors and omissions insurance
Respondents worked for a firm with a median of 23 brokers and agents,
typically with one office, and had been with that firm for seven years.
Fifty-six percent of members are affiliated with an independent firm, and 40
percent are with a franchised company.
Almost 90 percent of Realtors are homeowners, 36 percent own at least one
residential investment property and 10 percent own at least one commercial
property and 3 percent own at least one vacation home. About half have collect degrees, 15 percent
are fluent in a second language, and they vote - about 94 percent of
respondents participated in the last national election.
Realtors said several factors limit potential clients in completing
transactions. Members said the biggest impediment was difficulty in
obtaining a mortgage, cited by 29 percent of respondents, followed by
difficulty in finding the right property, 25 percent.