The Realtor of today: breaking down NAR’s 2017 member profile

by Evi Arthur

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What does the typical Realtor look like, and how was business for them in 2016? The answer obviously varies from market to market and from age group to age group. But the survey results in the National Association of Realtors’ 2017 Member Profile provide an insightful glimpse into the state of the modern real estate business.

A look at what NAR’s 1.2 million members have to say about their business activity, work experience and use of technology illustrates the relative health of the market and how Realtors work today.


Work experience

The typical Realtor is 53 years old, which is the average age since 2008, when the average age of a Realtor was 52 years. A typical Realtor has 10 years of experience in the profession; most real estate workers come to the industry from a previous profession.

Only 4 percent of survey respondents said real estate was their first profession. Of those who’ve moved into the business, 17 had previous jobs in business, management and finance while 16 percent previously worked in sales or retail.

Most people in the profession are full-time, with nearly 80 percent saying they get at least half or all of their yearly income from their real estate work, according to NAR. And many of them make decent wages: the national median income was $42,500 in 2016, up from $32,900 in 2015.

Those with 16 years experience earn a median income of $78,850, while those with two years or less on the job make a median income of $8,930.

Just over half of those surveyed said they are affiliated with an independent company. The median tenure for Realtors at their current firm is 4 years. Almost 80 percent said they work individually, while 19 percent said they sell real estate as part of a team.


How is business?

It might not be booming, but quite a few benchmarks show that homes are moving and Realtors are profiting.

The typical agent had 12 transactions in 2016, up from 11 in 2015. A “brokerage specialist” saw a median sales volume of $1.9 million, up from $1.8 million last year. Nearly 30 percent of Realtors handled a foreclosure transaction (down from 35 percent last year) and 18 percent handled a short sale (down from 24 percent), showing that the real estate market is trending in the right direction.

Realtors received about 13 percent of their annual business from repeat clients, down significantly from 20 percent in 2014. The drop is thought to be because of a large contingent of new Realtors who didn’t have an existing client pool. (Those new real estate professionals also helped drop the median age to the lowest its been in 8 years.) Referrals accounted for 18 percent of Realtors’ business in 2016, which is unchanged from the previous year.

The average business expense for a Realtor in 2016 was $6,000, which is down from $6,300 in 2015. A broker-owner can expect to have $16,250 in business expenses, showing a connection “between Realtor income and expenses,” according to the report.


Use of technology

Realtors have to be more connected than ever to remain competitive, and the survey respondents know that. Over 90 percent of Realtors use email, computers, smartphones and multiple listing software on a daily basis, according to the report.

Seven out of 10 Realtors have a website, up ever-so-slightly from last year. You might think older Realtors are less likely to have a website, but it’s the younger Realtors who don’t yet have sites: 64 percent of Realtors with 16 years of experience have sites, while among Realtors with 2 years of experience or less, 38 percent have sites, according to NAR.

Of those with a website, 42 percent have it provided to them by their firm. Just over 50 percent of Realtors have had a website for at least 5 years.

What content is featured on these websites? About 85 percent have property listings, followed by homebuying and selling tips (75 percent) and mortgage or financial calculators (53 percent).

Facebook is a much-used tool in the profession, as 69 percent of Realtors have a Facebook page for their business. Even drone use is increasing among Realtors, as 16 percent used on in 2016, a four percent increase from the previous year.

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