Agents notched 25% income bump in frenzied 2021

Median gross income rose last year, but split across roles: NAR

NAR CEO Bob Goldberg (NAR, Getty Images)
NAR CEO Bob Goldberg (NAR, Getty Images)

When the housing market took off during the pandemic, so did the economic fortunes of National Association of Realtors members.

The median gross income for Realtors surged 25.3 percent year over year in 2021, Inman reported. The data comes courtesy of the National Association of Realtors 2022 Member Profile, which included survey responses from more than 9,200 members polled in March.

The median gross income for Realtors last year hit $54,300, up $11,000 from the 2020 median of $43,300. The hot housing market is an obvious explanation for the boost, as the sales volume for the typical Realtor rose from $2.1 million to $2.6 million and the number of closed transactions increased from 10 to 12.

More than 6.1 million homes were sold last year, the most in 15 years.

Alongside the income growth came a rise in expenses. Total median business expenses increased 17.3 percent year over year to $6,250 in 2021. While that’s up from 2020, it’s about flat from 2019.

Not all roles are created equal. The median gross income for brokers and broker associates was $90,000, but the median for sales agents was only $38,300, although it jumped 13.3 percent year over year.

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Those with less experience were much less likely to capitalize on the soaring housing market. Realtors with at least 16 years of experience had a median gross income of $85,000. Realtors with two years or fewer of experience, however, made a median of roughly one-tenth of their older counterparts, $8,800.

The number of real estate agents across the country surged during the pandemic and the membership of the NAR did the same. The association’s ranks increased from 1.48 million at the end of 2020 to 1.56 million at the end of last year.

More people have made the leap into the industry to take advantage of the flexible hours, as well as the booming housing market that made selling homes a more appealing financial play. But the market’s low inventory meant that not everybody was going to benefit from the housing environment.

Realtors may not have as much to look forward to this year. The housing market is shifting as interest rates and mortgage rates rise, while fears of a recession grow. The slowdown could result in a hit to the pockets of real estate agents everywhere.

— Holden Walter-Warner