2022 NAR Member Profile: Median Realtor income jumps in 2021

The median gross income of a Realtor jumped almost 25% in 2021, as a shortage of housing inventory was the biggest obstacle to homebuyers seeking to purchase homes, according the 2022 National Association of REALTORS® Member Profile

NAR membership rose from 1.48 million at the end of 2020 to 1.56 million at the end of 2021 as people sought to take advantage of the hot housing market. Amid the increase in membership, the typical Realtor saw their business increase, with transaction sides increasing to 12 from 10 in 2020 and sales volume increasing to $2.6 million from $2.1 million. 

“In the last year, Realtors continued to navigate a challenging housing market and cited the biggest factor holding back the housing market was tight inventory,” said Jessica Lautz, NAR vice president of demographics and behavioral insights. “As buyers relocated throughout the pandemic, housing affordability and lack of supply became a hurdle that agents and brokers found ways to overcome.” 

Median income for Realtors jumped to $54,330 from $43,330 in 2020. However, the amount earned varied widely by experience, as 57% of Realtors with two years or less experience earned less than $10,000, compared to 45% of members with 16 or more years’ experience, who made more than $100,000. 

Median experience was eight years, while 39% of respondents had 16 years or more in the business, and 25% had two years or less.  

Fifty-seven percent of respondents cited limited inventory as the main impediment to clients closing on home purchases, followed by 16% citing housing affordability and 12% citing difficulty finding the right property.  

Fifty-four percent of those surveyed were affiliated with an independent firm, and 87% were independent contractors at their firms. Thirty-six percent were compensated under a fixed commission split, 20% were compensated with a graduated split increasing with productivity and 18% with a capped commission split. 

By demographics, 66% of respondents were female, up from 65% in 2020, while the median age was 56, and 77% were white, 11% were Hispanic and 8% were Black. Ninety-three percent had some post-secondary education, and 31% completed their bachelor’s degrees. 

NAR conducted the 97-question survey in March, emailing it to a random sample of 176,494 Realtors and receiving a total of 9,220 responses. 

NAR’s motion for dismissal denied; third buyer-side lawsuit to move forward

In a hearing Oct. 5 in U.S. District Court, a judge denied motions brought by the National Association of Realtors asking to dismiss a lawsuit that seeks to end the practice of sellers paying buyers’ broker commissions.

This is the third such lawsuit filed against NAR about buy-side commissions, although this one zeroed in on NAR’s buyer broker commission rule requiring “all brokers to make a blanket, non-negotiable offer of buyer broker compensation” in order to list the property on the Multiple Listing Service.

The plaintiffs in the class-action suit are two Connecticut homeowners who say NAR’s policies force sellers to pay buyer commissions at an inflated amount.

The lawsuit, which alleges racketeering and conspiracy, also names four brokerages: Keller Williams, Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices of America, RE/MAX Holdings and Realogy Holdings.

Responding to NAR’s motion to dismiss the suit, Judge Andrea Wood agreed with the plaintiffs’ contention that they were forced to pay higher commissions because of the rule.

“The Court finds that plaintiffs have sufficiently pleaded that they suffered an antitrust injury from defendants’ conspiracy,” Wood wrote. “Each plaintiff was a home seller required to pay a commission to the buyer-broker for the person who purchased their home. But-for defendants’ conspiracy, each plaintiff would have paid substantially lower commissions.”

Although disappointed in the ruling, a NAR spokesperson told Chicago Agent magazine that as the case moves forward, they intend to demonstrate how the MLS system creates competitive, efficient markets that benefit homebuyers and sellers as well as small business brokerages.

“The MLS fosters cooperation between brokers providing the best and greatest number of options for buyers and sellers,” NAR said. “The broker commission structure also ensures greater access for first-time, low-income and many other home buyers who otherwise couldn’t afford a home purchase. We are confident that when the case is ultimately decided, we will prevail.”