Rising home prices boost Realtor income, but expenses are growing even faster

NAR survey finds 3 in 4 members advertising listings on third-party sites

Helped by rising home prices, Realtors saw their incomes jump for the third straight year in 2013, but an even bigger jump in expenses ate into their take-home pay, according to an annual member survey from the National Association of Realtors released today.

Realtors’ median gross income was $47,700 in 2013, up 9.7 percent from $43,500 in 2012, according to the NAR 2014 Member Profile, which includes the results of a 91-question survey answered by 6,462 Realtors. The median number of transactions for Realtors last year stayed flat at 12, but home prices rose 11.5 percent, according to NAR.

Paying the bills image via Shutterstock.
Paying the bills image via Shutterstock.

Despite the $4,200 increase in gross income in 2013, Realtors’ take-home pay after taxes and expenses was just $2,500 (or 9.1 percent) more than it was in 2012, totaling $29,900. By contrast, gross income rose by $8,600 (25 percent) and net income rose by $4,200 (18 percent) in 2012.

Profile metric 2013 2012
Median gross income $47,700 $43,500
Median business expenses $6,560 $4,900
Median age 56 57
Female/male breakdown 57%/43% 57%/43%
Median technology spend $760 $690

Source: 2014 NAR member profile

Business expenses rose nearly 34 percent last year to a median $6,560, compared with $4,900 in 2012. That increase was partially due to a 10.1 percent rise in the amount spent on technology services and products, a median $760 from $690 in 2012. Vehicle costs — Realtors’ largest expense — also rose nearly 4 percent to $1,860.

Realtors spent a median $620 marketing their services in 2013, up from $590 in 2012. But they spent only a median 5 percent of that money on online marketing and promotion, down from 10 percent in 2012.

In 2013, 96 percent of respondents said they used email on a daily basis, and 94 percent used a laptop or desktop computer daily. Nearly 9 in 10 said they used a smartphone daily. Seventy percent said they used multiple listing software daily, and 31 percent said they used contact management software daily.

The past year has seen an influx of new and younger members."

More than half said they used electronic contract and forms software either daily or a few times a week, though only a third said they used e-signatures that often. Nearly two-thirds, 61 percent, reported using social networking websites.

More Realtors said they had a personal website in this year’s survey: 67 percent, and they paid a median of $200 to maintain it, down slightly from $220 in 2012. They received a median four inquiries from their website and got 3 percent of their business from it. Realtors typically got 21 percent of their business from repeat clients and 21 percent through referrals from past clients and customers.

Of all the websites Realtors placed their listings on last year, realtor.com was the most popular at 85 percent, unchanged from last year. Also unchanged, 82 percent put their listings on their firm’s website. A full three-quarters of respondents advertised their listings through a third-party aggregator. 2012 data for that particular category of websites was unavailable.

Just over two-thirds of Realtors, 68 percent, put their listings on a multiple listing service website, and 52 percent displayed them on their own personal website. Fewer than 4 in 10 put their listings on a local association website, social networking site, franchisor’s website, or other websites such as Craigslist.

In terms of demographics, Realtors are getting a bit younger as a group: the median age of a Realtor was 56 in this year’s survey, compared with 57 last year, and years of experience in real estate declined to 12 years from 13 years in 2012. Only 3 percent of all Realtors are under 30 years of age, however. Real estate is a first career for only 6 percent of Realtors.

Nonetheless, NAR said the past year has seen an influx of new and younger members.

“The fact that the number of members with one year or less of experience rose to 9 percent in 2013 from 5 percent the year before shows that those agents getting into the field are attracted to the many benefits and business opportunities that come with being a Realtor,” said NAR President Steve Brown in a statement.

While members cited difficulty in obtaining a mortgage as the biggest closing challenge faced by their clients in 2011 and 2012, members said difficulty in finding the right property was their No. 1 challenge in 2013, likely due to tight inventory.


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