Before Pandemic, Members’ Incomes Were on the Rise
July 16, 2020
Real estate professionals earned a higher income in 2019 while the housing market was benefiting under a thriving economy and low unemployment.
Overall, the median gross income of REALTORS® in 2019 was $49,700, up from $41,800 in 2018. Those who’ve worked longest in the business tended to fare the best. REALTORS® with 16 years or more experience earned nearly double, with a median gross income of $86,500, up from $71,000 in 2018. Those with two years or less experience, on the other hand, earned a median gross income of $8,900, a slight decrease from $9,300 a year prior, shows the newly released 2020 Member Profile, a snapshot of REALTORS® based on responses from nearly 12,500 REALTORS®. The survey is conducted annually by the National Association of REALTORS®. The 2019 survey was conducted prior to the COVID-19 pandemic.
In 2019, the average REALTOR® had 12 transactions, up slightly from 11 in 2018. With rising home prices, sales volume rose from $1.9 million to $2.3 million in 2019.
But even under a robust economy in 2019, real estate pros still faced challenges with sales due to a shortage of homes for sale. For the seventh consecutive year, REALTORS® cited difficulty finding the right property as the biggest struggle for their clients. Also, REALTORS® faced steep competition from their peers: NAR membership has continued to hold at 1.4 million, even as of June 20 during the pandemic.
Compensation and Expenses
Real estate pros tend to have varied compensation structures depending on their brokerage. Last year, 37% of REALTORS® reported being compensated under a fixed income split (under 100%), 22% had a graduated commission split (which increases with productivity), and 16% had a capped commission split (rises to 100% after a predetermined threshold).
Business expenses accounted for a median of $6,290, which is a significant increase from $4,600 in 2018, the report shows. The largest expense category for the majority of REALTORS® was vehicle expenses at $1,400.
More About Members
On average, most REALTORS® are independent contractors affiliated with an independent company. They frequently came to real estate after having a previous career in a different industry. The most common former careers among REALTORS® tended to center in management, business, and financial professions.
The majority of REALTORS® are college-educated, and women make up an increasing majority of the industry. Women comprise 64% of members, up from 57% in 2010. The median age of a REALTOR® in 2019 was 55 years old.
Repeat business and referrals remain vital customer pipelines for growing a real estate business. In 2019, the typical REALTOR® said that 15% of their business came from repeat clients, and 20% came through referrals from past clients and their customers. REALTORS® with 16 years or more in the business reported more of their clients coming from repeat or referrals—a median of 39% or 29%, respectively.
Real estate professionals continue to embrace technology. Real estate pros leverage multiple technology platforms to stay connected. They favor social media for outreach; they are the most active on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Instagram. And texting is their favorite mode of communication. Ninety-four percent of real estate professionals say text messaging was their preferred way to connect with clients, followed by email (91%) and phone calls (89%).
“2020 Membership Profile,” National Association of REALTORS® (July 2020)
Updated: August 16, 2022