Realtors saw their incomes jump and also ratcheted up their spending on technology as their optimism increased  in 2012, according to the 2013 member survey from the National Association of Realtors.

With a median income of $43,500 on a median of 12 transactions in 2012, Realtors made about 25 percent more than they did in 2011, according to a 72-question survey of 4,883 Realtors sent out in January.

Despite the $8,600 increase in gross income, Realtors’ take-home pay after taxes and expenses was just $4,200 more than it was in 2011. That still beats 2011, when Realtors saw net income decrease $1,400 from 2010.

Profile metric 2012 2011
Income $43,500 $34,900
Business expenses $4,900 $4,520
Median age 57 56
Female/male breakdown 57%/43% 60%/40%
Technology and marketing spend $690 $630

Source: 2013 NAR member profile

Realtors are also showing growing optimism about the profession. Eighty percent of respondents indicated that they’re “very certain” they’ll be a real estate professional for the next two years. In 2011, 76 percent had the same take, up from 73 percent in 2010.

Though they made more money in 2012, Realtors also spent more — a median of $4,900 in the year — to operate their businesses, respondents said. That’s up from $4,520 in expenses respondents reported in 2011 and $4,270 in 2010.

Realtors also used technology more in 2012 than they did last year, spending $690 on technology and marketing services in 2012, $60 more than they spent in 2011 and 2010, according to the survey results.

Realtors used email and smartphones more frequently, and more of them had websites in 2012 than previous years. In 2012, 95 percent of the respondents said they used email on a daily basis, up from 93 percent in 2011. And 86 percent said they now use a smartphone nearly everyday, compared with just 78 percent in 2011.

In 2012, 64 percent of respondents said they had a personal website and paid a median of $220 to maintain it. That’s up from 62 percent in 2011, and Realtors also spent $20 more maintaining their websites than last year, but $30 less than in 2010.

A vast majority of Realtors, despite the marketing buzz around the practice, still aren’t blogging, according to the survey results, though the practice did increase from 10 percent of all Realtor respondents in 2011 to 12 percent in 2012.

Not only do the survey results show that the typical Realtor made more money in 2012, but it also revealed that NAR members may be delaying retirement. At 57, the median age of Realtors was up from 56 in 2011 and 52 in 2008.

Realtors were less likely to be women in 2012, although females still made up a healthy majority, according to NAR’s survey. Some 57 percent of Realtors were women, down from 60 percent in 2011.

Realtors were even more likely to be white in 2012 than in 2011 with 87 percent of respondents indicating they were white compared with 86 percent in 2011.

Like 2011, the No. 1 factor hampering completed transactions, 29 percent of the respondents said, had to do with the difficulty their potential clients faced qualifying for a mortgage because of tight lending conditions.

The second-most prevalent factor blocking closed deals in 2012, 25 percent of the respondents said, involved low inventory — clients had trouble finding the right home.  In 2011, only 12 percent of respondents said finding the right house was an issue for clients closing deals.

A much more prevalent issue a year ago — cited by 18 percent of respondents — was buyers who worried that home prices might fall and leave them underwater shortly after purchase. In 2012, only 8 percent of respondents indicated that client fear over falling prices contributed to stalled deals.

In 2012, more than half of all respondents (56 percent) worked for an independent company, down from 59 percent in 2011.

Large firms with 101 or more employees are more likely to be affiliated with a franchisor than not. Last year, 54 percent of large firms had a franchise affiliation, up from 49 percent in 2011 and 46 percent in 2010.

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