Brokerage

Can driving for Uber trump a career in real estate?

Drivers may make more than real estate agents, but not brokers

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As real estate industry leaders ponder the challenges of recruiting millennials, it’s a question worthy of consideration: Can Uber drivers really make almost as much money as real estate brokers? A chart accompanying a story in The Atlantic, “The Uber Economy,” would suggest just that.

uber_v_REbroker_atlantic
Source: theatlantic.com.

Uber drivers in San Francisco make $23.52 an hour, according to a study by Princeton economist Alan Krueger and Uber’s head of policy research, Jonathan Hall.

Thompson compares that figure to statistics from the Bureau of Labor statistics to guesstimate that, on an hourly basis, Uber drivers make more than waiters, cashiers and bakers — and nearly as much as real estate brokers.

The BLS pegs the median hourly wage for real estate brokers in the Greater San Francisco-Oakland-Fremont metro area at $22.61, and the mean hourly wage at $32.91.

But there’s a little more to the chart — which Atlantic author Derek Thompson stresses is rough — than meets the eye.

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Krueger and Hall note that their Uber hourly wage estimate does not take into account expenses you incur as a driver for hire — little stuff like gas, maintenance, insurance, mobile device and data fees, and license and registration fees.

“A detailed quantification of driver partner costs and net after tax earnings is a topic of future research,” they promise.

But consider this: According to the BLS, the median hourly wage for real estate agents in San Francisco is $16.70, and the mean is $23.86.

BLS_broker_agent_wages
Source: bls.gov.

Now we’re getting into territory where doing a little driving for Uber on the side might make sense — especially if it gets you some clients.