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Realtor income rises 25%, prepare for wave of new licensees

May 13, 2013
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new realtor Realtor income rises 25%, prepare for wave of new licensees

2013 Realtors Member Profile shows incomes up

According to the 2013 National Association of Realtors (NAR) Member Profile which outlines member data from 2012, income and sales are up for Realtors for the second year in a row following nine years of decline, news that will likely lead to a new wave of professionals looking to diversify income or quit job hunting to seek their real estate license.

After all, the median gross income of a Realtor rose 25 percent from $34,900 in 2011 to $43,500 in 2012 is admittedly an attractive stat, and many will jump on the bandwagon, or perhaps return to the bandwagon regardless of any other facts in the report.

Paul Bishop, NAR vice president of Research put the earnings in perspective, noting that “the median Realtor® income had fallen by 35 percent during 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.”

Brokers, experienced Realtors earn more

NAR reports that in 2012, brokers typically earned $54,900 while the median for sales agents was $34,000 and Realtors in the business for 16 years or more earned $57,300. NAR members working 60 hours a week or more earned $85,700, and 21 percent of all members earned a six-figure income.



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Sales are up as well, with the number of sides in 2011 averaging 10 per NAR member, up to 12 in 2012.

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.”

More about members

Most (80 percent) of NAR members focus on residential sales and 73 percent have secondary real estate specialties. Fully 18 percent of residential specialists also offer commercial property management, 17 percent relocation services, 15 percent commercial brokerage, 8 percent counseling, and 7 percent land development. For Realtors® who have other primary specialties, 37 percent listed residential brokerage as a secondary business.

NAR reports the typical Realtor has 13 years of experience, is 57 years old, works 40 hours per week, and 57 percent are women. Half have at least a bachelor’s degree, and 90 percent are homeowners. Under two percent are under 30, and only four percent are between 30 and 34. Only six percent of Realtors surveyed were uncertain they would remain in the business for at least two more years.

Over half of all NAR members are licensed as sales agents, 27 percent are brokers, 18 percent broker associates, and four percent appraisers, some holding more than one license. Only four percent have two or more personal assistants, while 14 percent have one.

Only 39 percent of Realtors hold certifications in specialized training, of which, Short Sales and Foreclosure Resource Certification (SFR) is the most popularly held certification (23 percent) followed by e-Pro (17 percent) and Real Estate Professional Assistant (REPA, at seven percent).

Over one in three Realtors have obtained at least one professional designation with the GRI (Graduate Realtor Institute) as the most popular (21 percent), followed by ABR (Accredited Buyer Representative, 15 percent) and CRS (Certified Residential Specialist at 11 percent).

How Realtors now operate

Fully 36 percent of Realtors still do not have their own website, but 94 percent say their firm has a web presence, and 88 percent report to be without a blog, even though 56 percent say they use social media sites. Although it feels like every real estate professional in the country is on every social network and has multiple blogs, that simply isn’t the case, and the industry has a lot of room to grow.

Sixty-eight percent of Realtors are compensated through a split commission arrangement, 18 percent receive all of the commission and another four percent receive a commission plus a share of profits; 10 percent received some other form of compensation.

Most NAR members see no fringe benefits, and while four percent receive health insurance through their firm, a surprising 78 percent are not covered by errors and omissions insurance.

Challenges for Realtors

NAR members continue to report the biggest obstacle to any real estate transaction is obtaining a mortgage (cited by one in three respondents) and tight inventory levels (25 percent report difficulty in finding the right property).

Repeat business accounted for a median 21 percent of activity in 2012 and is higher for those with more experience – for members in the business 16 years or more, repeat business was 40 percent of their activity. Referrals accounted for an additional 21 percent of all business.

Quick facts about Realtors:

  • Realtor median gross income rose from $34,900 in 2011 to $43,500 in 2012
  • Brokers earn $54,900
  • Sales agents earn $34,00
  • Realtors with 16+ years of experience earn $57,300
  • Realtors working 60+ hours per week earn $87,500
  • Realtors average 12 sales per year, up from 10 in 2011
  • Typical Realtor has 13 years of experience
  • Typical Realtor is 57 years old
  • 57% of Realtors are women
  • Half of all Realtors have at least a bachelor’s degree
  • 90% of Realtors own a home
  • Less than 6% of Realtors are under 34
  • Half of all Realtors are sales agents
  • 27% of Realtors are brokers
  • 18% of Realtors are broker associates
  • 36% of Realtors don’t have their own website
  • 88% of Realtors don’t have a blog
  • 44% of Realtors don’t use social media
  • 78% of Realtors aren’t covered by errors and omissions insurance
  • 96% of Realtors do not receive health insurance through their firm
  • One in three Realtors say obtaining a mortgage remains the top obstacle to a transaction
  • 25% of Realtors say the top challenge is finding the right property
  • 21% of Realtors’ sales are from repeat business
  • 21% of Realtors’ sales are from referrals

Tara Steele is the News Director at AgentGenius, covering real estate news, technology news and everything in between. If you'd like to reach Tara with a question, comment, press release or hot news tip, she frequently checks her email, simply click the link below.