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NAR Member Survey Shows Focus on Training, Commitment to Profession

Washington, DC – May 17, 2011 – (RealEstateRama) — Realtors® have been focusing more on training to help them better meet the needs of clients in a housing market with unique challenges, according to the 2011 National Association of Realtors® Member Profile.

The study’s results are representative of the nation’s Realtors®, who account for more than half of the approximately 2.0 million active real estate licensees in the U.S. The typical NAR member has 12 years of experience; nine out of 10 say they are certain they will remain in the business.

NAR President Ron Phipps, broker-president of Phipps Realty in Warwick, R.I., said the survey shows strong growth in professional training. “Realtors® bring value to home buyers, sellers and investors with their experience and expertise, and 35 percent currently hold at least one out of six certifications in specialized training. That is up from 24 percent in 2010 and 16 percent in 2009,” he said. “The most popular area of training for NAR members, driven by the large share of distressed homes on the market, is the Short Sales and Foreclosures Resource Certification, held by 21 percent of Realtors®, up from 12 percent in 2009.”

The second most popular Realtor® certification is e-Pro, held by 11 percent of members to help them better serve the online needs of clients, followed by REPA (Real Estate Professional Assistant), 5 percent.

Paul Bishop, NAR vice president of research, said NAR members also are completing classwork to qualify for designations. “Thirty-six percent of Realtors® have obtained at least one professional designation, up from 34 percent in 2010,” he said. “These designations give NAR members additional expertise in a variety of topics, helping Realtors® serve the specialized needs of their clients.”

The most popular designation is GRI (Graduate Realtor® Institute), held by 21 percent of respondents; ABR® (Accredited Buyer Representative®), 13 percent; CRS® (Certified Residential Specialist®), 10 percent; and Seniors Real Estate Specialist (SRES®), 6 percent. Smaller shares hold one of 13 other designations.

The market has been tough for many Realtors®, with the median income declining 4.5 percent to $34,100 last year, which followed a 3 percent decline in 2009. Members licensed as brokers earned a median of $48,700 in 2010, while sales agents earned $24,900.

NAR members in the business for two years or less earned a median of $8,900, while those in the business for 16 years or more earned $47,100. Sixteen percent earned a six-figure income, reflecting the entrepreneurial aspect of Realtor® businesses.

Fourteen percent of Realtors® work fewer than 20 hours per week, 30 percent work 20 to 39 hours per week, 41 percent work 40 to 59 hours and 15 percent work 60 hours per week or more.

Median Realtor® household income, which includes business income, any secondary income and spousal or partner income, was $91,700, which is above the national median of $50,000.

Members said the most important factor keeping potential clients from completing a transaction was difficulty in obtaining a mortgage, cited by one-third of respondents. “This underscores the importance of mortgage availability to creditworthy home buyers, and the need to return to the safe, sensible underwriting standards that were in place before irresponsible lending led to the boom and bust cycle,” Phipps said.

“As we reform lending policies, it’s important to not throw the baby out with the bath water. The problem isn’t with responsible home buyers making low downpayments, but rather the consequences of risky mortgages that should never have been introduced to the market,” Phipps added.

The survey shows the typical NAR member is 56 years old and works 40 hours per week; 57 percent are women, who account for 50 percent of brokers and 63 percent of sales agents. Three percent of all Realtors® are under 30 years of age and another 4 percent are 30 to 34 years old; 22 percent are 65 or over.

Most members are sales agents: 57 percent; 28 percent are brokers, 17 percent broker associates, 4 percent appraisers, and 1 percent other (some hold more than one license). Eleven percent of members have one personal assistant, while 3 percent have two or more personal assistants.

There are two sides to every real estate transaction – one each for the seller and the buyer. Among Realtor® members, the median number of transaction sides handled in 2010 was eight, equivalent to four full transactions, up from seven transaction sides in 2009.

Sixty-eight percent of Realtors® are compensated through a split commission arrangement, 18 percent receive all of the commission and another 3 percent receive a commission plus a share of profits; 11 percent received some other form of compensation. Eight out of 10 members work as independent contractors for their firms. Three out of four Realtors® receive no fringe benefits, although 20 percent are covered by errors and omissions insurance; only 5 percent receive health insurance.

Seventy-eight percent of NAR members focus on residential sales and 72 percent have secondary real estate specialties. Sixteen percent also offer commercial brokerage, 14 percent relocation services, 14 percent commercial property management, 9 percent counseling and 8 percent land development. Smaller percentages were also in residential property management, residential appraisal, international, auction or commercial appraisal.

Residential brokerage was listed as a secondary business for 10 percent of respondents who have other primary specialties.

One-third of respondents belong to one or more of NAR’s affiliated institutes, societies or councils; the most common is CRS (Council of Residential Specialists), identified by 12 percent.

Only 6 percent of members report real estate is their first career; most bring expertise and experience from a wide range of other fields. Previous full-time careers include management, business or financial, 19 percent; sales or retail, 16 percent; office or administrative support, 9 percent; and education, 7 percent. Twelve other categories were each 5 percent or less; 14 percent were other.

Realtors® use technology daily or nearly every day – it’s key to their success: 92 percent use e-mail, 90 percent use computers, and 72 percent use smart phones with wireless e-mail and Internet capabilities. Less frequently used technologies on a daily basis include GPS devices, instant messaging, digital cameras, and PDAs without phone capability.

Sixty-two percent of NAR members have a personal website, operational for a median of 6 years, and nine out of 10 report their firm has a Web presence. Half of the respondents use social or professional networking sites and 10 percent have a blog.

The median-sized firm has 29 licensees with one office, the same as in 2009. Four out of 10 members are affiliated with an independent, nonfranchised firm, 33 percent with a franchised subsidiary of a national or regional corporation, 21 percent are with an independent franchised company, and 5 percent with a nonfranchised subsidiary of a national or regional corporation. Respondents have typically been with their firm for five years. Eleven percent of Realtors® report their firm was bought by or merged with another during the past two years.

Ninety-one percent Realtors® are homeowners. In addition, they often invest in real estate and own other homes in addition to their primary residence – 43 percent own at least one investment property and 16 percent own at least one vacation home. In addition, 10 percent own at least one commercial property.

NAR members are active in the political process – 92 percent participated in the last national election and 85 percent voted in the last local election. They are well-educated, with 48 percent holding at least a bachelor’s degree; 15 percent are fluent in other languages.

The 2011 National Association of Realtors® Member Profile is based on a survey of 54,758 members which generated 8,303 usable responses, representing an adjusted response rate of 15.3 percent. Income and transaction data are for 2010, while other data represent member characteristics in early 2011. The study can be ordered by calling 800-874-6500, or online at The profile costs $19.95 for NAR members and $149.95 for nonmembers.

The National Association of Realtors®, “The Voice for Real Estate,” is America’s largest trade association, representing 1.1 million members involved in all aspects of the residential and commercial real estate industries.

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Information about NAR is available at This and other news releases are posted in the News Media section. Statistical data, charts and surveys also may be found by clicking on Research.

Walter Molony 202/383-1177