The COVID-19 pandemic and a booming housing market have led to a rising number of professionals entering the real estate business. The National Association of REALTORS®’ membership grew to 1.48 million at the end of 2020, up from 1.4 million at the end of 2019, according to the association’s newly released 2021 Member Profile. Seventy-nine percent of real estate pros say they’re certain they’ll remain in the real estate industry for at least two more years.
But while the number of professionals is increasing, the housing inventory is not, and that is pressing on some real estate pros’ ability to grow their sales and businesses. REALTORS® cited a lack of inventory as the leading reason limiting their clients from completing a transaction.
“REALTORS® continued to serve clients’ needs despite the challenges 2020 brought to the real estate market,” said Jessica Lautz, NAR vice president of demographics and behavioral insights. “Economic lockdowns and historically low inventory, coupled with surging homebuying demand, only showed the resilience of our members and industry.”
Here’s a snapshot of some findings from the 2021 Member Profile, based on responses of more than 10,500 NAR members.
Income: One out of four REALTORS® earned $100,000 or more in gross income in 2020. Overall, the median gross income for REALTORS® was $43,330 in 2020, down from $49,700 in 2019. Real estate pros with the most years of experience tended to earn the highest incomes. For example, REALTORS® with 16 years or more of experience had a median gross income of $75,000. Meanwhile, total median business expenses for members were $5,330 in 2020, a decline from $6,290 in 2019.
Business activity: Real estate pros reported slightly lower sales volume ($2.1 million vs. $2.3 million) as well as fewer transactions (10 vs. 12) in 2020 compared to 2019, according to NAR’s report. Real estate pros reported several challenges facing their clients over this year that hampered sales, particularly a lack of housing inventory.
Licenses: Sixty-eight percent of REALTORS® hold sales agent licenses, 20% hold broker licenses, and 14% hold broker-associate licenses. Seventy-three percent of members specialize in residential brokerage.
Technology: The pandemic has forced many businesses to rely on technology to keep transactions moving. Real estate pros reported most using a smartphone with wireless email and internet capability and a laptop or desktop computer. Text messaging is the top method of communication that members use with their clients, at 93%, followed by phone calls (90%) and email (89%). “REALTORS® used emerging technologies in 2020 to bridge the gap when pandemic precautions were in place,” Lautz says. “Members have now pivoted and embraced these tools to showcase listings and help buyers strategically find and secure the limited number of properties available.”