After nearly a decade of decline the income of REALTORS® is growing, according to the 2012 National Association of Realtors® Member Profile. The study’s results are representative of the nation’s REALTORS®, who are members of the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR).

NAR member income rose for the first time since 2002. The median income of a REALTOR® rose 2.3 percent to $34,900 in 2011, which is the first overall gain in nine years.

REALTORS® account for about half of the two million active real estate licensees in the U.S.  Unlike other real estate licensees, REALTORS® go beyond state licensing requirements by subscribing to NAR’s Code of Ethics and Standards of Practice, commit to continuing education, and have access to professional resources to better serve the needs of clients. 

The typical NAR member has 11 years of experience and works 40 hours per week; 60 percent are women, who account for 55 percent of brokers and 66 percent of sales agents. Members licensed as brokers typically earned $48,400 in 2011, while the median for sales agents was $27,200. Higher median income was reported by members in the business for 16 years or more, who earned $50,200. Seventy-two percent of REALTORS® receive no fringe benefits, although 23 percent are covered by errors and omissions insurance; only 6 percent receive health insurance.

“REALTORS® bring value to their clients by raising professional standards with specialized knowledge and expertise, which includes training for designations and certifications offered by NAR,” said NAR president Moe Veissi.

Thirty-two percent of REALTORS® hold at least one out of six certifications in specialized training. The most popular area of training, driven by the ongoing elevated level of distressed homes on the market, is the Short Sales and Foreclosures Resource Certification, held by 18 percent. In addition, 33 percent of REALTORS® have obtained at least one professional designation. 

The typical NAR member is 56 years old. REALTORS® are well-educated, with 48 percent holding at least a bachelor’s degree; 16 percent are fluent in other languages. Sixty-two percent of NAR members have a personal website, and nine out of 10 report their firm has a web presence. Fifty-four percent of the respondents use social or professional networking sites and 10 percent have a blog. 

Selling homes and property management are not all REALTORS® do, according to Suzanne Yost, president of the Silicon Valley Association of REALTORS®. The NAR survey shows REALTORS® are politically active – 93 percent participated in the last national election and 82 percent voted in the last local election. 

“REALTORS® fight for homeowners and buyers at the local, state and national level,” said Yost. “As strong advocates of homeownership and private property rights, we constantly strive to educate our representatives in government about policies that could impact our clients’ ability to achieve the American dream of homeownership. It makes sense to make sure you are working with a REALTOR®, not just a licensee, to take advantage of their commitment to ethical behavior and education.”

In May, Yost and other SILVAR members attended the NAR Mid-Year Legislative Meetings in Washington, D.C. and the California Association of REALTORS® Business Meetings in Sacramento, where they discussed real estate-related issues with legislators. At these meetings REALTORS® asked legislators to continue supporting favorable legislation, such as extending the National Flood Insurance Program, preserving FHA programs, and opposing bulk sales of REOs.

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