The income and business of Realtors is growing after many years of decline, according to the 2012 National Association of Realtors Member Profile. The study’s results are representative of the nation’s Realtors, who are members of NAR. Realtors account for about half of the two million active real estate licensees in the U.S., as NAR members subscribe to the association's Code of Ethics and Standards of Practice, commit to continuing education and have access to professional resources to better serve the needs of clients.
“The median income of a Realtor rose 2.3 percent to $34,900 in 2011, which is the first overall gain in nine years,” said Paul Bishop, NAR vice president of research. “Many Realtors have persevered through very difficult market conditions and understand the cyclical nature of the business, but have never had to endure a cycle like the one that is presently waning. The good news is home sales are rising, overall activity is expected to be notably better this year and individual prospects are much brighter given there are fewer Realtors than several years ago.”
Members licensed as brokers typically earned $48,400 in 2011, while the median for sales agents was $27,200. Higher median income was reported by experienced NAR members in the business for 16 years or more, who earned $50,200. Realtors working 60 hours a week or more earned $80,900, and 17 percent of all members earned a six-figure income.
The typical NAR member has 11 years of experience and works 40 hours per week; 60 percent are women, who account for 55 percent of brokers and 66 percent of sales agents. More than nine out of 10 Realtors are certain they will remain in the business for at least two more years.
“Our members are tapping into resources that give them an edge up on challenging conditions, whether it’s helping a buyer negotiate a distressed sale or find a loan, or in helping a seller with effective marketing, " said NAR President Moe Veissi, broker-owner of Veissi & Associates Inc. in Miami. "Beyond that, we’re fighting for both home owners and buyers in Washington and beyond because homeownership matters to the well-being of this nation."
Thirty-two percent of Realtors hold at least one out of six certifications in specialized training. The most popular area of training, driven by the ongoing elevated level of distressed homes on the market, is the Short Sales and Foreclosures Resource Certification, held by 18 percent. The second most popular Realtor certification is REPA (Real Estate Professional Assistant), 15 percent, followed by e-Pro, held by 11 percent of members to help them better serve the online needs of clients.
In addition, 33 percent of Realtors have obtained at least one professional designation. The most popular is GRI (Graduate Realtor Institute), held by 19 percent of respondents; ABR® (Accredited Buyer Representative), 15 percent; and CRS (Certified Residential Specialist®), 10 percent. Smaller shares hold one of 14 other designations.
The survey shows the typical NAR member is 56 years old; only two percent of all Realtors are under 30 years of age and another four percent are 30 to 34 years old; 22 percent are 65 or over.
Repeat business and referrals are important to Realtor business. Repeat business accounted for a median 19 percent of activity in 2011 and is higher for those with more experience—for members with 16 years or more in the business, that number rises to 38 percent. Referrals accounted for an additional 20 percent of business activity.
Fifty-seven percent are licensed sales agents; 27 percent are brokers, 18 percent broker associates, three percent appraisers, and one percent other (some hold more than one license). Fourteen percent of members have one personal assistant, while four percent have two or more personal assistants.
Eight out of 10 NAR members focus on residential sales and 72 percent have secondary real estate specialties. Fifteen percent also offer relocation services, 14 percent commercial brokerage, 14 percent commercial property management, nine percent counseling and 8 percent land development. Smaller percentages were also in residential property management, residential appraisal, auctions, international or commercial appraisal.
Residential brokerage was listed as a secondary business for the 10 percent of respondents who have other primary specialties. Respondents worked for a firm with a median of 23 brokers and agents, typically with one office, and had been with that firm for six years. Six out of 10 members are affiliated with an independent firm, and 38 percent are with a franchised company. Eleven percent of Realtors report their firm was bought by or merged with another during the past two years, the same as in the 2011 study.
Nine out of 10 Realtors are homeowners. They often invest in real estate and own other homes in addition to their primary residence—53 percent own at least one residential investment property and 29 percent own at least one commercial property. In addition, 19 percent own at least one vacation home.
NAR members are active in the political process—93 percent participated in the last national election and 82 percent voted in the last local election. They are well-educated, with 48 percent holding at least a bachelor’s degree; 16 percent are fluent in other languages.