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The typical Realtor of today is older and has more experience than the typical Realtor one year ago, according to the National Association of Realtors’ 2011 Member Profile.

The median age of a Realtor is 56, compared to 54 in the 2010 profile and the typical association member has 12 years of experience, up from 10 last year.

The survey profile is based on 8,303 responses from NAR members. Statistics for compensation, earnings, sales volume and number of transactions correspond to calendar year 2010; the rest are from early 2011. At the end of April 2011, NAR had 1.01 million members.

Only 12 percent of Realtors are under 40, half are between 40 and 59, and 38 percent are age 60 or older. Only 6 percent of Realtors said real estate was their first career. By comparison, homebuyers had a median age of 39 in 2010, according to NAR’s most recent annual profile of buyers and sellers.

The proportion of female Realtors is unchanged from the 2010 profile, at 57 percent.

Realtor membership has become slightly more ethnically diverse in the last year. Whites account for 82 percent of members, down from 87 percent. Hispanics make up 6 percent of Realtors, blacks make up 4 percent and Asians make up 4 percent.

Brokerage sales volume in 2010 was a median $1.1 million, down from $1.2 million in 2009. Realtors completed a median eight transactions in 2010, up from seven the year before. Eight percent did not complete a single transaction in 2010, down from 12 percent in both 2009 and 2008.

See related story:

Realtors get more tech-savvy

After falling 3 percent in 2009, median gross income among Realtors fell 4.5 percent last year, to $34,100. Licensed brokers earned a median $48,700 last year, while sales agents earned $24,900.

About 57 percent of Realtors participating in the survey are licensed as sales agents while 45 percent are brokers or broker associates. Four percent are appraisers.

Annual business expenses for the typical Realtor fell 22.1 percent in 2010 to $4,270. At least partially due to this decline, the typical Realtor’s net income rose to a median $24,600 last year, up 5.1 percent from 2009.

Some 72 percent of members reported using smartphones daily or almost daily in 2010, up from 56 percent last year and 42 percent in 2009.

Nearly half of Realtors (49 percent) reported actively using social and professional networking sites. That’s slightly down from last year’s profile, when 51 percent of members did. The youngest Realtors were most likely to use social media: 83 percent of those 29 and younger did, compared to 31 percent of those 60 and up.

The same proportion of members had a blog this year compared to last year (10 percent), and about the same proportion reported having a website (62 percent). The average Realtor spent $250 to maintain his or her website, up from $220 last year. Websites typically accounted for 3 percent of a Realtor’s business, unchanged from last year.

A slightly lower share of Realtors used digital cameras daily or almost daily in early 2011 compared to last year (28 percent), though a slightly higher percentage used instant messaging (30 percent) and GPS (31 percent).

Eight out of 10 Realtors work as independent contractors. Twenty percent are covered by errors and omissions insurance and 5 percent of all Realtors receive health insurance through their firm. The typical Realtor works a median 40 hours per week.

Realtors typically got 18 percent of their business through referrals from past clients — about the same as last year. Real estate was the sole occupation for 75 percent of Realtors, though in only 43 percent of households was real estate the primary source of income. Gross median household income among survey participants rose to $91,700 from $89,100 in 2009.

The typical firm has a median 29 agents and brokers — same as in 2010 and 2009.

The biggest share of Realtors (41 percent) are affiliated with an independent, nonfranchise company. A third are affiliated with a franchised subsidiary of a national or regional corporation, 21 percent are with an independent franchisee, and 5 percent are with a nonfranchised subsidiary of a national or regional corporation, according to the profile.

Some 72 percent of Realtors had at least had some college education, 91 percent owned their own homes and 92 percent voted in the last election.

Some 73 percent of Realtors said they were "very certain" they would remain active as a real estate professional during the next two years – about the same as in last year’s survey. Eighteen percent said they were "somewhat certain."

"The most popular area of training for NAR members, driven by the large share of distressed homes on the market, is (NAR’s) Short Sales and Foreclosures Resource Certification, held by 21 percent of Realtors, up from 12 percent in 2009," said Ron Phipps, NAR’s president, in a statement.

Eleven percent of Realtors held NAR’s second most popular certification, e-Pro, which focuses on online skills and technology. More than a third (35 percent) hold one of six NAR certifications, up from 24 percent in 2010 and 16 percent in 2009.

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