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Q&A Corner: Career Choices in Real Estate: Through the Lens of Gender, Race, and Sexual Orientation

In March, NAR released the Career Choices in Real Estate: Through the Lens of Gender, Race, and Sexual Orientation report. In 2017, the National Association of REALTORS® took its first look at member business through the lens of gender and race. The report provided insights into differences in why members entered the field, skills important for the field of real estate, areas in which members worked, the typical number of transactions, sales volume, and the income differences. The 2021 report expands these topics and scope. In addition to examining experiences by race and gender, NAR members were also asked questions regarding their sexual orientation. A new category was added to compare and contrast experiences among members who identify as Straight/Heterosexual and identify as LGBTQ+. The report is broken into sections which compare all members, members who perform 100% residential real estate, those who spend 100% of their time in commercial real estate, and dual specialists.

Matt Christopherson, Research Analyst, was one of the lead authors of the report.  In this conversational Q&A, he provided perspectives on how to use the report, insights into the data and the results he found to be most interesting.  

Q: How did this report come about?

Matt Christopherson: We understand that with more than 1.4 million REALTORS®, almost no one has the exact same experience. We wanted to look at the experiences of our members entering the field from a variety of viewpoints to get a fuller picture for the whole.

Q: What questions is this report trying to answer? 

Matt Christopherson: This report’s aim was to better understand what attracts members to real estate, where they come from, struggles and successes they face, and how their different situations shape their real estate career. We not only dove into the experiences of residential, commercial, and dual specialist members, but also wanted to see how different walks of life form the real estate career.

Q: What important trend(s) does this report reflect?

Matt Christopherson: There are differences in income and sales volume based on all three lenses examined: gender, race, and sexual orientation. It’s important to realize these differences, but even more important to understand why they occur. While these categories affect experiences, other factors come into play such as home values in the areas in which members live and work, hours worked, and more.

Q: What aspects of this report do you find most interesting?

Matt Christopherson: REALTORS® are known as motivated, hard-working individuals and this report reflects that. We know that three in five REALTORS® chose their career path on their own. Members are attracted to the field by the flexible work hours, the entrepreneurial aspect, and helping out their communities which embodies what it means to be a REALTOR®. In addition, we are seeing the membership become more and more diverse each year, which means REALTORS® are more and more representative of the communities they serve.

Q: How can our members use this data?

Matt Christopherson: Members can use this report in a variety of ways, mainly to understand what to expect when entering the field of real estate and establishing themselves, as well as understanding what their peers deal with. Brokers and Associations can use the findings in this report to fully understand different experiences and needs when entering the field so that they can properly set up their agents and members for success.

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