A major issue for small homebuilders and individual homeowners in this country is selecting a sales professional to sell their homes. The builder or owner is seldom skilled in the practice of selling and commonly even less skilled in selecting professionals for this role. The task becomes especially difficult insofar as selling homes from a fixed location requires different skills than the more common practice of selling a broad array of offerings. The “site agent” combines selling skills with specific knowledge of available offerings and, like general sales, income commonly is based upon performance — what you sell determines what you earn.
Realtors are a well-known name for a substantial number of sales people involved in real estate transactions. The name Realtor does not cover all real estate sales people, but only those who are members in good standing of the National Association of Realtors. Most states require real estate sales people to be tested on a regular basis (e.g. two years) to maintain a license to serve as an agent on behalf of property owners or persons seeking to purchase property. An agent license permits them to represent sellers or purchasers under control of a real estate broker. Agents cannot represent buyers or sellers alone; they must be employed under the license of a broker. Realtors are brokers who are members of the National Association of Realtors. Realtor Associates belong to the same organization.
In 2017, there are approximately 1.2 million Realtors out of 2.2 million active real estate licenses in the United States. The members subscribe to NAR’s Code of Ethics and Standards of Practice as well as continuing education. The typical Realtor is a 53-year-old female homeowner who attended college. Median income increased from $39,200 to $42,500 in 2016.
According to NAR Chief Economist, Lawrence Yun, in an improving economy, the real estate business improved in 2017 as well as an increase in Realtor membership. However, it is a highly entrepreneurial business with some members earning six figure incomes while others earn less than $10,000. A recent survey reveals that 24% of members make under $10,000 and 24% make over $100,000 annually. Higher earners tend to have been in business longer, with those in business more than 16 years earning an average income of $78,850 and had 15 transactions. Realtors with 2 years or less experience had a median gross income of $8,930 from four transactions.
Income also varied by license type with broker members having earned an average of $69,640 in 2016, while the median earnings for sales agents was $31,670. Overall, the median gross income increased 8% in 2016. Of course, salaried employees of a firm may represent that firm in sales transactions without licensing requirements.
In sum, finding competent site agents usually requires identifying agents who have had success with single-site selling, a difficult task in a market dominated by agents with general sales experience. It often requires an enhanced performance income for superior results.