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Real Estate Firms Optimistic about Keeping up with Competition, Challenges

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The typical residential real estate firm handled a median of 25 transaction sides in 2012, representing a dollar volume of $4.4 million. Ten percent of a firm’s median sales volume was generated by a website, but less than 1 percent came from social media; however, firms with three or more offices obtained 5 percent of their business through social media. The vast majority of sales were from prior relationships with clients and from referrals.

Many related business activities or services are offered by franchised real estate firms in-house, through outsourcing or a business relationship with another firm. Among in-house offerings, 27 percent of firms provide business brokerage (the buying and selling of businesses such as retail stores), 15 percent provide relocation services and 5 percent offer mortgage lending. Smaller categories include home improvement, title or escrow services, home warranty, homeowners insurance, settlement services, other insurance, home inspection, moving services and securities brokerage.

Only 22 percent of firms offer health insurance to their independent contractors and licensees, although the licensee typically pays the full cost. Nearly eight in 10 firms provide errors and omissions insurance, but licensees generally must pay for at least some of the coverage.

Real estate firms report that 72 percent of their staff have an academic degree. More than eight in 10 have licensees with professional certifications or designations, and more than six out of 10 firms provide training and education programs for their staff or sales agents. The typical firm requires new agents to receive a median of 21 hours of training and continuing education annually, while experienced agents acquire 12 hours.

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