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Realtor(R) Member Survey Shows Response to Challenging Market

WASHINGTON, DC -- (Marketwire) -- 05/13/09 -- Realtors® are adjusting to shifts in the real estate market, reaching out to consumers through social networking and obtaining training to better meet the needs of clients, according to the "2009 National Association of Realtors® Member Profile."

More than one-third of Realtors® use social and professional networking sites. Blogs, RSS feeds and podcasts are used by 17 percent of respondents on a regular basis, up from 12 percent in 2008. There are no significant changes in use of these technologies based on the number of years in the business.

NAR President Charles McMillan, a broker with Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage in Dallas-Fort Worth, said a slowdown in home sales gives real estate professionals an opportunity to improve their skills. "Real estate agents and brokers who go beyond state licensing requirements by becoming Realtors® subscribe to a strict Code of Ethics and commit to continuing education," he said. "Within that context, many more go on to seek specialized training to better serve their clients and increase the value they add to the real estate transaction."

The study's results are representative of the nation's 1.2 million Realtors® -- about 60 percent of the nearly 2 million active real estate licensees across the country.

Thirty-five percent of Realtors® hold at least one professional designation, up from 32 percent in 2008, with the most popular being GRI (Graduate, Realtor® Institute), held by 20 percent of respondents; ABR® (Accredited Buyer Representative®), 13 percent; CRS® (Certified Residential Specialist®), 10 percent; and Seniors Real Estate Specialist (SRES®), 5 percent. Smaller percentages hold one of 14 other designations. Another 16 percent hold a certification of specialized training.

One quarter of NAR's membership belongs to one or more of NAR's affiliated institutes, societies or councils. Eleven percent belong to the Council of Residential Specialists, 10 percent are members of the Real Estate Buyer's Agent Council, 4 percent the Women's Council of Realtors® and 3 percent the Council of Real Estate Brokerage Managers; smaller percentages belong to five other affiliates.

Paul Bishop, NAR managing director of real estate research, said members are diversified in their business activities. "Most Realtors® understand real estate is a cyclical business and are diversified in their income streams," he said. "Almost all of our members have secondary business specialties, and some are involved in related businesses."

Although 82 percent of all Realtors® specialize in residential real estate, most also have secondary focuses. Twenty-two percent have a secondary specialty in relocation, 21 percent in commercial brokerage, 17 percent residential property management, 14 percent counseling and 14 percent land development. Smaller percentages were also in commercial property management, residential appraisal, international, auction and commercial appraisal; only 3 percent had no secondary specialty.

Residential brokerage was cited as a secondary business for 11 percent of respondents who had other primary specialties.

The survey shows the typical NAR member is 54 years old, works 40 hours per week and specializes in residential brokerage; 60 percent are women.

The median income was $36,700 in 2008, down from $42,600 in 2007. Members licensed as brokers earned a median of $49,300 last year, while sales agents earned $28,400.

Realtors® in the business for two years or less earned a median of $8,600, while those with three to five years of experience earned $27,100. For six to 15 years, the median was $42,400, while members in the business for 16 years or more earned $53,900.

There were similar differences in income depending on the number of hours worked. Members who worked less than 20 hours per week earned a median of $8,200, while those who worked 60 hours or more earned $74,000. The typical NAR member has been in the business for 10 years, up from eight years in 2007.

"There's a clear relationship between income and time in the business because agents build their business through repeat clients and referrals," Bishop said. "Our separate consumer survey shows parallel findings -- both buyers and sellers learn about the agent they work with through word-of-mouth recommendations. Reputation and market knowledge appear to be bigger factors than the company the agent works for, or the kind of business model they have, and most consumers would use their agent again or refer that agent to others."

A median of 19 percent of all NAR members' business is from referrals from previous clients, ranging from 1 percent for newcomers to 23 percent for respondents with at least 16 years of experience.

Thirty-one percent of Realtors® report they had clients who are foreign nationals, and 14 percent are fluent in other languages.

Some members hold multiple licenses with 60 percent holding a sales license, 41 percent a broker or broker associate license, 3 percent appraiser and 1 percent hold some other kind of license.

Seventy percent of Realtors® are compensated through a split commission arrangement, 17 percent receive all of the commission and another 3 percent receive a commission plus a share of profits; 82 percent of members work as independent contractors for their firms. Seventy-two percent receive no fringe benefits; however, 13 percent are covered by errors and omissions insurance and only 7 percent receive health insurance.

Fourteen percent of Realtors® have one personal assistant, while 2 percent have two personal assistants. There is a strong relationship between experience and the use of personal assistants. Only 5 percent of members who have been in the business for two years or less have a personal assistant, while 24 percent of those with at least 16 years of experience have at least one personal assistant.

The primary activities of personal assistants are processing listings and placing them in the multiple listing service, handling mailings and other communications, managing the paperwork of the closing process and scheduling appointments. Half of personal assistants are licensed agents.

Only 6 percent of members report real estate is their first career; most bring expertise and experience from other fields. Previous careers include management, business or financial, 19 percent; sales or retail, 16 percent; office or administrative support, 10 percent; and education, 7 percent. Twelve other categories were each 4 percent or less.

Only 12 percent of Realtors® work fewer than 20 hours per week, 31 percent work 20 to 39 hours per week, and 14 percent work at least 60 hours per week; 76 percent report real estate is their only occupation.

Respondents have typically been with their firm for five years. Women account for 53 percent of brokers and 66 percent of sales agents. Four percent of all Realtors® are under 30 years old while another 4 percent are 30 to 34 years old; 17 percent are 65 or over.

There are two sides to every real estate transaction -- one each for the seller and the buyer. Among sales members, the median number of transaction sides handled in 2008 was seven, equivalent to 3.5 full transactions, down from eight transaction sides in 2007. The median sales or leasing volume was $1.2 million, down from $1.6 million in 2007.

Residential specialists generally offer buyer agency, with 41 percent offering both buyer and seller agency with disclosed dual agency, and another 12 percent providing exclusive buyer agency; only 7 percent offer exclusive seller agency.

Technology is vital to Realtors®' success. At least nine out of 10 use e-mail and computers daily or nearly every day, 78 percent use cell phones and 42 percent use smart phones with wireless e-mail and Internet capabilities. Less frequently used but important technologies include digital cameras, instant messaging, GPS devices, and PDAs without phone capability.

The typical member received four inquiries over the past year from a personal Web site, which accounted for 3 percent of their business. More than seven out of 10 Realtors® have a home office.

Fifty-one percent of members are affiliated with an independent, nonfranchised firm; 33 percent are with an independent franchised company, 10 percent with a franchised subsidiary of a national or regional corporation, and 5 percent with a nonfranchised subsidiary of a national or regional corporation. The median-sized firm has 23 licensees with one office. Twelve percent of Realtors® report their firm was bought by or merged with another during the past year.

Eighty-eight percent of members are Caucasian, 5 percent Hispanic, 4 percent African American, 3 percent Asian, 1 percent Native American and 1 percent other; respondents could choose more than one category.

Realtors® are active in the political process -- 96 percent are registered to vote; 94 percent voted in the last national election and 87 percent voted in the last local election. They are well-educated, with 48 percent holding at least a bachelor's degree.

Many Realtors® invest in real estate and own other homes in addition to their primary residence -- 40 percent own at least one investment property and 16 percent own at least one vacation home. In addition, 13 percent own at least one commercial property.

Members typically remain optimistic about the future, with 73 percent saying they are confident they will remain active in the business during the next two years, with only 7 percent saying they weren't certain.

"The 2009 National Association of Realtors® Member Profile" was based on a survey of 99,533 members which generated 8,113 usable responses, representing an adjusted response rate of 8.2 percent. Income and transaction data are for 2008, while other data represent member characteristics in early 2009. The study can be ordered by calling 800-874-6500, or online at www.realtor.org/newresearch. The profile is free for NAR members but costs $125 for nonmembers.

The National Association of Realtors®, "The Voice for Real Estate," is America's largest trade association, representing 1.2 million members involved in all aspects of the residential and commercial real estate industries.

Information about NAR is available at www.realtor.org. 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.

REALTOR® is a registered collective membership mark which may be used only by real estate professionals who are members of the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS and subscribe to its strict Code of Ethics. Not all real estate agents are REALTORS. All REALTORS are members of NAR.

For further information contact:
Walter Molony
202/383-1177
Email Contact

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