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Every REALTOR® has a backstory on their path to real estate—and according to new research out of the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR), most REALTORS® were self-motivated to pursue it as a profession.


Seventy percent of REALTORS® self-started their career because of an interest in the industry, the “Choosing a Career in Real Estate: A Perspective on Gender, Race and Ethnicity” report reveals. Sixty-four percent, in fact, say their interest in real estate is the most attractive part of the business to them.

Comprised of findings from a survey of 6,363 members of NAR, the report shows 69 percent of male REALTORS® and 65 percent of female REALTORS® embarked on a career in real estate that was self-motivated. African American and Black REALTORS®, markedly, represent the largest share of self-motivated starts, at 75 percent.

Some REALTORS® entered the industry because of a friend who referred them, the report shows. Broken down by gender, a friend encouraged 20 percent of female REALTORS® and 18 percent of male REALTORS® to join the profession. Twenty-seven percent of Asian and Pacific Islander REALTORS® were referred by a friend—also the majority share.

Confirmed in the research? REALTORS® come from all walks of life. Eighty-two percent got their start in the working world outside of real estate; for 51 percent of female REALTORS®, real estate is their second career, and for 36 percent of male REALTORS®, their third. Female REALTORS® are more likely to come from a career in education, management or office support, while male REALTORS® are more likely to come from a career in management or sales. Sixty-one percent of African American and Black REALTORS®—again, the majority share—are in their second career.

Looking at activity and production, Caucasian and White REALTORS® (who make up 82 percent of NAR members) have the highest sales volume and transactions of all groups, the report shows. Asian and Pacific Islander REALTORS®, however, sell the most expensive homes—translating to the highest median gross income ($56,800) of all segments. Caucasian and White REALTORS® have a median gross income of $54,200.

Hispanic and Latino REALTORS®, by comparison, have a median gross income of $41,700 and the second-highest median transactions, and sell the third-most expensive homes. They are also the largest group with less than one year of experience in the field, and the largest segment specializing in the residential sector (71 percent).

In contrast, African American and Black REALTORS® sell the least expensive homes and have the lowest median gross income ($23,000). They are also the majority group earning less than half their income from real estate, and working less than 20 hours each week, suggesting part-time status as a REALTOR®.

Turning to gender, male REALTORS® have a median gross income of $54,600, while female REALTORS® have a median gross income of $46,700. Male REALTORS®, however, have a median seven transactions; females, a median eight.

Diversity in the field is reflected in its practitioners, but many REALTORS® share similar views, the report shows. Eighty-six percent of REALTORS® agree “people skills” are crucial to residential real estate success. Other important talents: self-motivation (84 percent) and negotiation skills (73 percent). When asked what are the most attractive aspects of the profession, “flexible hours,” “working with people,” the “entrepreneurial” quality of real estate, and “salary possibilities,” were common responses.

“A career in real estate offers a work environment and diversity of opportunity that attracts all types of individuals, and the report’s findings are a reflection of that,” says NAR President Bill Brown. “That being said, NAR remains committed to ensuring that its membership continues to reflect America’s growing diversity.”

NAR’s diversity initiatives include several programs and resources: the At Home With Diversity (AHWD) certification; the Equal Opportunity and Cultural Diversity Program, which includes education, events, grants and partnerships; and the NAR Diversity Initiative Grant Program.

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Suzanne De Vita is RISMedia’s online news editor. Email her your real estate news ideas at

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