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Top Markets for Real Estate Agents

10 metros with promising indicators for higher income

By Andrea V. Brambila | August 30, 2011

No matter the state of the housing market, there are real estate professionals doing business. Despite gloomy housing and economic news at the national level, real estate agents and brokers in some markets are seeing a high dollar volume in home sales due to rising prices and relatively vibrant local economies.

Inman News examined total sales, median sales price, real estate licensee data and Realtor membership counts in dozens of metro areas across the country to develop a list of 10 metros where real estate professionals are doing comparatively well in terms of sales and average total dollar volume in sales per Realtor.

The average total dollar volume in sales per Realtor was calculated by multiplying the average number of sales per Realtor by the median sales price in a given metro in the 12 months between June 2010 and May 2011.

Half of the markets on the resulting list are in the South (four are in Texas), three are in the West, one is in the Midwest, and one is in the Northeast. The 10 markets are, in order: Seattle-Bellevue-Everett, Wash.; Fort Worth-Arlington, Texas; Denver-Aurora-Broomfield, Colo.; Salt Lake City; San Antonio-New Braunfels, Texas; Pittsburgh; Dallas-Plano-Irving, Texas; Kansas City Mo.-Kan.; Austin-Round Rock-San Marcos, Texas; and Nashville-Davidson--Murfreesboro--Franklin, Tenn.

Total average sales volume per Realtor in the year ending in May 2011 ranged from $599,171 in the Nashville metro to $1.54 million in the Seattle metro. Sales per Realtor ranged from 3.2 in the Austin metro to 8.3 in the Fort Worth metro. For some metros, a high median sales price offset a relatively low sales rate to result in a higher than usual average total dollar volume in sales.

While all Realtors are real estate licensees, it's important to note that in a given market there are some real estate licensees who are not Realtors. And the sales rate per Realtor statistic does not account for sales by non-Realtors -- including sales by real estate licensees and for-sale-by-owner transactions -- in a given market.

It's also important to note that two real estate sales associates can profit in every sales transaction, as the typical sale features a real estate agent working on the "sell" side (or listing side) of the deal and another agent working on the "buy" side of the deal. And it is typical for sales associates on both sides of the deal to share a portion of their commission income with their broker.

Seven out of the 10 markets saw their median sales price rise year-over-year in May, and none of the remaining three saw double-digit price drops. On a month-to-month basis, all 10 either saw the sales price remain roughly flat or rise in May. That same month, the U.S. median sales price fell 3.2 percent on a year-over-year basis, to $152,000, according CoreLogic data.

Seven out of 10 markets had a median sales price higher than the national median ($150,500) in the 12 months between June 2010 and May 2011. Median prices ranged from $107,250 in the Pittsburgh metro to $302,000 in the Seattle metro.

Not surprisingly, the 10 metros, chosen for their total sales and total dollar volume in sales per real estate professional, turned out to have better-than-average local economies. None of the 10 markets had unemployment rates higher than the national rate in June, according to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Only the Seattle market had a rate equal to the nonseasonally adjusted national rate of 9.3 percent, while the rest had lower jobless rates. Nine out of 10 markets had lower foreclosure rates than the national rate in the second quarter, when 1 in 111 housing units nationwide received a foreclosure filing, according to data from foreclosure data site RealtyTrac. Only Salt Lake City had a somewhat higher rate, with 1 in 108 units in the area receiving a foreclosure filing.

According to the National Association of Realtors' state existing-home sales data, there was an average of five sales per Realtor in the second quarter of this year. Among the top 10 states with a high rate of sales per Realtor, most were in the Midwest or the South.

  Q2 2011 sales (seasonally adjusted annual rate) Membership as of June 30, 2011 Sales per Realtor
United States 4,860,000 1,022,413 5
ALASKA 24,800 1,318 19
OKLAHOMA 78,000 8,494 9
SOUTH DAKOTA 14,400 1,586 9
WEST VIRGINIA 25,200 2,823 9
IOWA 55,600 6,315 9
ARKANSAS 58,000 6,637 9
OHIO 231,600 27,237 9
NORTH DAKOTA 12,000 1,446 8
MISSISSIPPI 41,600 5,089 8
NEBRASKA 32,400 4,039 8

Source: National Association of Realtors.

For data-quality purposes, only markets with at least 1,500 sales posted in May 2011 were considered for this report. While most of the 10 states above also posted high sales rates for real estate licensees (not just Realtors), most metros in these states did not meet the 1,500-sales-count threshold and were therefore not included in this report.

Another consequence of this threshold is that the populations of each of the 10 markets exceeded 1 million, and ranged from 1.1 million to 4.2 million.

Nine out of the 10 markets are projected to see double-digit population growth by 2020, according to data from data analysis firm ProximityOne. While the national population is expected to rise 8.9 percent between 2010 and 2020, each of the 10 markets except Pittsburgh is expected to see double-digit increases, from 10.6 percent in the Kansas City metro to 33.1 percent in the Austin metro.

The Pittsburgh area's population is expected to stay virtually flat at 2.4 million.

9.   Austin-Round Rock-San Marcos, Texas

Sales per Realtor (June 2010-May 2011)  3.2
Average total dollar volume in sales per Realtor (June 2010-May 2011)  $611,660
Realtor membership (Aug. 2011)  9,330
Median sales price (May 2011) $203,125
Yr.-over-yr. % change median sales price (May 2011 vs. May 2010)  9.3%

Home to the Texas state capital, the Austin-Round Rock-San Marcos metro area stands out for several reasons among the 10 markets. The area had the highest year-over-year median sales price jump among the markets in May, up 9.3 percent to $203,125. The area also had the highest sales rate by population, with 1 sale for every 58 people; and the fastest-moving inventory in May, with homes on the market an average 75 days before selling.


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