Last year was a year none will forget — including the real estate community. The year 2020 saw the greatest number of homes sold since 2006 at 5.64 million, and Realtors said the lack of inventory was the biggest factor impeding their business, according to the National Association of Realtors (NAR) 2021 Member Profile.
The record number of sales didn’t necessarily translate into higher wages for most Realtors, however. In 2020, the typical Realtor had a slightly lower sales volume of $2.1 million in 2020 compared to $2.3 million in 2019, and fewer transactions overall (10 in 2020 compared to 12 in 2019).
Realtors’ median gross income was also down to $43,330 in 2020 from the previous year’s median of $49,700. Even among Realtors with more experience in the industry, income was down from 2019. Those Realtors with experience of 16 years or more earned a median gross income of $75,000, down from $86,500 in 2019. Just one out of four Realtors earned an income of $100,000 or more.
Fortunately, business expenses were also down for most members to $5,330 in 2020 from $6,290 in 2019.
“Realtors continued to serve clients’ needs despite the challenges 2020 brought to the real estate market,” Jessica Lautz, NAR vice president of demographics and behavioral insights, said in a statement. “Economic lockdowns and historically low inventory coupled with surging homebuying demand only showed the resilience of our members and industry.”
NAR’s 2021 Member Profile was generated through a 93-question survey sent to a random sample of 161,155 Realtors in March 2021. A total of 10,643 responses were received from members, which translates to an adjusted response rate of 6.6 percent. Responses were weighted in order to represent state level NAR membership. While compensation, earnings, sales volume and number of transactions data is reflective of calendar year 2020, all other data that emerged from the survey represents member characteristics from early 2021.
As far as Realtor demographics go, the profession continues to have progress to make in terms of diversity. About 78 percent of Realtors were white in 2020, down from 80 percent in 2019. After white demographics, Hispanics and Latinos made up the next largest population of Realtors at 9 percent. Black/African Americans made up 7 percent of the Realtor population and Asian/Pacific Islanders made up 6 percent of the population.
Still, new members coming into the industry are diversifying the profession: 34 percent of members who had two years or less of experience were not white.
Realtors come from all walks of life and serve as pillars in their respective communities,” NAR President Charlie Oppler, said in a statement. “As champions for consumers, Realtors combine hard work, dedication and trusted expertise to help individuals and families achieve the dream of property ownership.”
The proportion of female Realtors was up slightly to 65 percent from 64 percent in 2019. Meanwhile, the median age of Realtors was 54, down from 55 the previous year. About one-third of Realtors were over 60 years old and 5 percent were 30 years old or younger.
The number of Realtors who received business from past clients remained consistent year over year at 15 percent. However, those Realtors with 16 years or more of experience did see a greater proportion of their business (37 percent) as repeat business compared to Realtors with two years or less of experience. Referral business was down slightly in 2020 to 19 percent from 20 percent in 2019.
NAR membership grew over the course of the year to 1.48 million, up from 1.4 million the year before. Members also remained consistent in their commitment to the profession to previous years, with 79 percent stating they’ll remain in the industry for at least the next two years.