Inside the real estate brokerage in a challenging market

by Steve Randall23 Jul 2018

The lure of the real estate industry remains strong despite market conditions making sales tougher in some markets.

A new study from the National Association of Realtors shows that its membership rose from 1.22 million to 1.30 million in the year to April 2018 with 29% of members having less than 2 years’ experience (up from 28%).

“While inventory shortages continue and home prices remain high, NAR has seen a whopping 6% increase in membership over the last year,” Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist stated.

He added that the profile of Realtors is generally trending older but that younger people are still entering the industry, seeking the opportunities that it provides.

The median age of Realtors this year is 54, up one year from 2017; 63% are female; and many join from careers in management, business, or finance. Just 5% said real estate was their first career.

The typical Realtor is a 54-year old white female who attended college and owns her own home.

For most, real estate is their sole occupation; rising to 82% among the most experienced (16 years+).

Almost two-thirds are sales agents, 21% hold broker licences, 15% hold broker associate licences.

Among the newer members (2 years’ experience or less) 25% were from minorities, up from 22% a year ago.

What’s holding back business growth?
The survey found that the factors limiting the completion of transactions for clients include difficulty finding the right property (35%), housing affordability (17%), and obtaining a mortgage (12%).

Low inventory in particular means that the typical number of transactions was down to 11 in 2017 from 12 in 2016. Despite higher home prices, brokerage sales volume was down to a median $1.8 million from $1.9 million a year earlier.

A typical Realtor made 12% of their income from repeat clients and 17% from past clients and referrals, both of these percentages are 1 point lower than the previous year.

“A familiar story lingers from last year, as limited inventory continues to plague many housing markets across the country. For the fifth year in a row, the difficulty finding the right property has surpassed the difficulty in obtaining a mortgage as the most cited reason limiting potential homebuyers,” said Yun.

Most Realtors plan to remain in the business
The challenges of real estate are not dissuading many from continuing in the industry.

The NAR survey shows that 80% are planning to stay in the business although the newer entrants are more likely to be unsure.

The figures also reveal that 44% of NAR members worked at one office firm while a quarter worked at a firm with two to four offices. The typical member had been with their current firm for four years.

Nearly nine in 10 members are independent contractors at their firms, the same as last year.


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