NAR’s 2024 Membership profile shows the impacts of a difficult market on real estate professionals — many of whom are contending with issues related to affordability and inventory.

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A new report from the National Association of Realtors shows that, amid a tough housing market, the number of Realtors dipped slightly in 2023, while members of the industry did fewer deals and generated less sales volume.

The report, NAR’s 2024 Member Profile, describes 2023 as “a difficult year in the housing market” with the volume of existing-home sales hitting its lowest point since 1995. Against that backdrop, the report shows that NAR membership fell from 1.58 million at the end of 2022 to 1.55 million by the close of 2023. That’s slightly less than a 2 percent decrease.

The report further shows that last year, the typical Realtor completed 10 transaction sides, which is down from an average of 12 in 2022. Typical sales volume also fell from $3.4 million in 2022 to $2.5 million last year, while the median gross income of Realtors landed at $55,800, a dip from $56,400 one year prior.

Those dips are hardly catastrophic, though newer members of the industry appear to be having the toughest time: The report shows Realtors with two years or less of experience had a median gross income of just $8,100 in 2023. In contrast, Realtors with 16 years or more in the business had a median gross income of $92,500.

Overall, Realtors had a median of 10 years of experience in 2023, the report states. That’s a slight dip from a median of 11 years in 2022, which the report attributes to “new entrants joining.”

The report also sheds light on how and where Realtors tend to work. For instance, 53 percent of Realtors are affiliated with independent companies, and 88 percent are independent contractors. Realtors in 2023 had also been at their companies for a median duration of five years. That represents a slight dip, and though the report doesn’t speculate on the cause of that change, it could theoretically reflect an intensified recruiting landscape.

Looking at demographics, the report shows that “the typical Realtor is a 55-year-old white female who attended college and was a homeowner.” Additionally, 65 percent of Realtors are women, which is an increase from 62 percent compared to a year prior.

The challenging market hasn’t only impacted Realtors. The report shows that 26 percent of Realtors cited both inventory and affordability as the most critical factors that got in the way of their clients’ ability to find the right home.

Jessica Lautz

In a statement about the report, Jessica Lautz, NAR deputy chief economist and vice president of research, said that “2023 was a difficult year for Realtors due to high mortgage rates and low housing inventory, which significantly impacted home sales volume.”

“Realtors faced competition at all angles — not only to represent clients but also to ensure their buyers’ offers were accepted amid tough real estate market conditions,” Lautz continued.

The report is based on a survey NAR conducted in March. The organization sent surveys to a random sample of 157,711 Realtors and ultimately received 6,113 responses.

The report’s characterization of 2023 as a “difficult year” continues a narrative that began more than two years ago. Following the boom times of the early COVID-19 pandemic, when rates were low and stimulus money flowed freely, the market slowed considerably in 2022 as mortgage rates shot up. NAR’s report notes that rates ultimately peaked near 8 percent last September.

The result of this shift was affordability challenges for buyers, while at the same time, many homeowners opted against listing their homes. In spite of hopes for significant rate cuts and a market shift in 2024, this year has instead seen only modest improvement.

Despite these challenges, however, the report ultimately suggests that real estate professionals are an optimistic bunch: 73 percent of Realtors, the report notes, “are very certain they will remain in the market for two more years.”

Email Jim Dalrymple II

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