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Who Are REALTORS(R)? NAR Member Profile Shines a Light on Building a Career in Real Estate
By RISMedia Staff
Who are REALTORS®? That’s what the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR) set out to answer with its annual Member Profile, recently released. The report examines trends and data from 2019, covering everything from business characteristics and activity to income and expenses, as well as office and firm affiliation, technology, and demographic characteristics of REALTORS®.

The overall makeup of REALTORS®? The report found that 65 percent are licensed sales agents, while 22 percent have their broker’s license and 15 percent are broker associates. The majority (80 percent) reported they were “very certain” they would remain active as real estate professionals for at least two more years.

The typical REALTOR® in 2019 was a 55-year-old white female who attended college and owned a home. Of all REALTORS®, 64 percent were female—a 3 percent decrease from the previous year. Hispanics/Latinos accounted for 10 percent of the REALTOR® population, followed by Blacks (6 percent) and Asian/Pacific Islanders (5 percent). Newer agents make up the most diverse population of REALTORS®—33 percent of those in the industry working for two years or less were minorities.

Career backgrounds also vary—17 percent previously worked in management, business, finance or sales. In fact, for most REALTORS®, this is a career change as only 5 percent go straight down the real estate path.

“REALTORS® are one of the most diverse collection of professionals in any industry in this country, and this survey shows that real estate continues to be a field that is welcoming of Americans from all backgrounds,” said NAR President Vince Malta, broker at Malta & Co., Inc., in San Francisco, Calif. “While the industry and our members were hit tremendously hard by the coronavirus outbreak, hardworking REALTORS® are leading America’s economic recovery as our nation slowly reopens and works to adjust to this new normal.”

In terms of earnings, 37 percent of REALTORS® in 2019 reported having a fixed commission split (under 100 percent), while 22 percent had a graduated commission split, which increases with productivity. When it comes to putting in the time, last year REALTORS® worked one more hour per week (36) than the previous year.

For REALTORS®, 20 percent of business is coming through referrals from past clients and customers. But repeat business is also a significant source of income (15 percent). The biggest expense typically comes from transportation. Similar to 2018, REALTORS® spent $1,400, on average, on vehicle expenses last year.

But how much are they making? The scale is wide and varies by experience level. REALTORS® who have less than two years of experience had a median gross income of $8,900, while REALTORS® working in the field for 16 years or longer had a median gross income of $86,500.

Technology also plays a significant role in REALTORS®’s business, helping them to connect with prospects and their spheres. Of those surveyed, 74 percent reported having a website for business use. On social media, Facebook, LinkedIn and Instagram were the most popular platforms for REALTORS®. And for communicating with clients, REALTORS® preferred text message (94 percent), email (91 percent) and phone (89 percent).

“As members have become more reliant on their smartphones and the internet to stay in touch with their clients, they’ve also found that some of these social media sites are another avenue to reach potential homebuyers and sellers,” said Jessica Lautz, NAR’s vice president of demographics and behavioral insights.”

Commission splits and technology offerings play an important role when it comes to REALTORS® deciding who to align themselves with. In 2019, 52 percent went with an independent, while 42 percent aligned themselves with a franchised company. REALTORS® typically stayed at their firm for four years. Of all REALTORS®, 33 percent worked for a firm that was either purchased or merged with another company in the last two years. And lastly, 87 percent of members were independent contractors at their firms.

The NAR 2020 Member Profile reflects the responses of a total of 12,464 REALTORS®.

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