REALTORS® Expand Income Despite Low Inventory, Fierce Competition

NAR’s 2022 Member Profile reveals trends in real estate pros’ sales volume and transaction sides. Do you fit the profile of a typical REALTOR®?

Fierce competition in the industry didn’t stop REALTORS® from increasing their transaction sides and income over the last year, according to the National Association of REALTORS®’ newly released 2022 Member Profile. The booming housing market has prompted more people to pursue a real estate career, as NAR’s membership rose to an all-time high of 1.56 million in 2021, up from 1.49 million in 2020, the report shows. That marks significant growth from a decade ago when membership stood at just over 1 million. (View the breakdown of REALTOR® members by state association.)

That means real estate pros may have to compete more for customers. But it’s not the competition that REALTORS® cite as the top challenge blocking them from closing more sales—it’s the national inventory shortage, the NAR survey shows. Still, the typical member had 12 transaction sides in 2021, up from 10 in 2020, though COVID-19 lockdowns in 2020 need to be taken into consideration. Also, the typical sales volume rose from $2.1 million in 2020 to $2.6 million in 2021, according to the survey.

With more transactions under their belts, REALTORS®’ median gross income has ticked up as well, rising from $43,300 in 2020 to $54,300 in 2021. Experience level tends to matter greatly when it comes to income level. Fifty-seven percent of members who have two years or less of experience earned less than $10,000 in 2021, the report shows. On the other hand, 45% of members with more than 16 years of experience earned more than $100,000.

chart of Realtors' income
chart of Realtors' income

Here are some additional demographic trends among REALTORS® as well as business insights from NAR’s 2022 Member Profile:

  • The typical REALTOR® has eight years of experience.
  • The median age of REALTORS® was 56 in 2021, up slightly from 54 in 2020. Forty-one percent of the membership is over 60 years old while only 4% are less than 30 years old.
  • The share of women in the industry jumped from 57% in 2010 to 67% in 2021.
  • The majority of REALTORS®—87%—are independent contractors; only 5% are employees of a real estate company.
  • The typical REALTOR® worked 35 hours per week in 2021. Those who work more tend to earn more. For example, the median annual income of REALTORS® who worked 40 to 59 hours per week was $85,400. It was $144,400 for those who work 60 hours or more per week but only $13,300 for those who worked less than 20 hours.
  • Only 4% of members say real estate is their first career. Many REALTORS® come from various professional backgrounds, most notably management, business, finance, or retail.
  • The typical REALTOR® earned 16% of their business from repeat clients, while 20% of their business came from referrals.
  • Seventy-nine percent of members say they are certain they will remain in the business for at least two more years.

Source: National Association of REALTORS®