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How Much Money Can You Make as a Real Estate Agent?

How Much Money Can You Make as a Real Estate Agent?

When you want to know how much real estate agents actually make, a quick Google search can shed some light on the subject. But the answers you’ll see vary so widely.

Many are just averages based on Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) figures. The current $45,990 national average for agent income is nice to know. But it probably isn’t what you’re looking for.

Top-performing agents make a lot more than $45k each year. In fact, their earnings are often six figures. We asked an elite group of agents about their annual income so we could share their responses with you.

The result? A definitive list of examples shows just how much a highly motivated real estate agent can pull in each year. Frankly, we were impressed with their responses and knew our readers would be too. 

This kind of in-depth real estate income information is almost impossible to find online. So we gathered their answers to share here. Spoiler alert: It’s going to make you seriously consider becoming a real estate agent.

Top Real Estate Agents Share How Much They Make

What’s the income potential for a real estate agent? Apparently, the sky’s the limit. Without further ado, we’ll introduce the experts and how much they earn each year! 

Will Rodgers, Top Producing Virginia Real Estate Agent

“I am a top-producing real estate agent in Northern VA. I am in the top 10% of my market of agents. Between my investments and selling real estate as an agent, I made $150k–$200k per year in the last 2 years. 

That is, by selling 20 homes per year and doing 1-2 real estate flips per year, or by forming partnerships with home builders. I have mentors who make $700–$900k per year. They are in the top 1% of the market for agents. Both do both sales and investments (flipping homes and partnering with builders for new construction).” 

Michael Shapot, Leading NYC Real Estate Broker

“I am a real estate broker in NYC. I lead a large team of residential specialists. With a finite number of hours in the day, one would think that agents are limited in their earning potential. Nothing is further from the truth. Utilizing leverage and being strategic in business practices enable agents to earn more.

We are also able to utilize people to increase productivity. For example, it is a wise investment of $20 per hour for an administrative assistant if an agent can utilize that time working on business development projects worth thousands of dollars. 

My mentor used to say, ‘If you don’t have a gardener, you are a gardener. If you don’t have a housekeeper, you are a housekeeper.’ Well, if you don’t have an administrator, you are an administrator.

Instead of selling $500,000 homes, we can sell $1,000,000 homes. Instead of working on $2,000 per month in rentals, we can be working on higher-priced rentals. If we raise the price point of where we work, we raise our paychecks.

Once we are dominant in a neighborhood or with a certain demographic, we can use our skills and experience to expand our businesses geographically or demographically.” 

Kirk Pugh, Top Producing North Carolina Broker/Realtor

“Real estate is a profession where there is no ceiling on income potential. However, it is important to note that the Pareto Principle does apply; 80% of the results will be generated by 20% of the participants. Like any J.O.B., the result is directly proportional to the effort expended over time.

Those who enter the profession believing that you can “set your own schedule” and “work when you want to” have a bitter cup of tea to drink when they realize that while professional brokerage is not difficult, it is also not easy.

In our market of nearly 3500 licensees, more than 50% will not close a single transaction this year. Near the bottom of the top 20%, brokers are barely making a living wage. 

At the top of the heap, agents are generating over $2 million in gross commission income.

Part of what has allowed this tremendous success is the advent of real estate teams over the past decade or so. There is greater success in numbers if you can manage a business effectively. Generating gross commission income is hard work. Generating net profits is harder.

Through November 2020, our team has generated just under $1.7 million in gross commission income on over $60 million in sales. The top agent in my market will generate just under $500,000,000 in sales this year, and I personally know agents in other markets that will generate over $1 billion in sales this year.” 

Robert Jenkins, Oregon Real Estate Investor 

“As a real estate agent, our network is our net worth, as they like to say. I’m not a top commission-producing agent, but you don’t have to be to still make a lot of money. If we work solely for commissions in my smaller town, $300–400k a year is what the top producers are pulling down. 

But if they add in their ability to save money as agents when they buy and sell their own properties or use their knowledge to invest, we can make a lot more. That’s mainly what I’m focused on, and I run a small business around that idea. When you add it all together, I should break a seven-figure income.” 

Cyrus Karl, Licensed Massachusetts Realtor 

“In the HCOL (high cost of living) city where I work, top agents with established sales funnels earn upwards of $1 million in yearly gross income. Most newer agents aim for one sale a month. With a median home value of $1.25 million, that would come out to roughly $225,000 in yearly gross income.” 

Matthew Martinez, Luxury and Investment Real Estate Broker

“As a top-producing real estate broker, my goal is to make $1,000,000 in gross commission income every year. Our average price point is around $700,000, and every year I close at least 60 transactions to hit my income goal of $1,000,000.”

What’s the Most a Real Estate Agent Has Ever Made?

One real estate agent actually holds a Guinness World Record for selling the most homes in a year. Ben Caballero of Dallas, Texas, holds the record for the most annual home sale transactions through MLS by an individual agent. 

In 2018, he sold 5,801 homes, totaling $2.27 billion in volume. This beat his previous record of 4,799 homes sold ($1.90 billion) in 2017. Before that, he held the record with 3,556 homes sold in 2016. 

Incredible, right? 

While Ben didn’t publicly share how much he made in commissions from his record-breaking year, it’s safe to assume it was tens of millions. If he had taken a 3% commission on each sale, he could have earned a whopping $68.1 million in commissions in 2018!

So, how did he manage to sell so many homes when the average agent sells about 12 homes per year? He is the broker/owner of HomesUSA, a website that lists Dallas-area builders’ new homes for sale.

He is the listing agent for each one of these new homes that get posted for sale on his site. This is how he manages to sell nearly three homes every business hour, or almost 16 homes every single day of the year. 

How Many Houses Do You Have to Sell to Make Six Figures?

Now that you’ve read some outstanding examples of real estate agent income, let’s break it down a bit more. How many houses are agents selling to pull in six figures a year? 

In general, most agents earn a 3% commission on each house they sell. This is half of the usual 6% commission paid by the seller. Half goes to the listing agent, and half goes to the selling agent.

So if the home in question sells for $250,000, each agent involved could earn $7,500. At that rate, an agent would have to sell about 14 houses in a year to earn $100,000.

That’s more than a house per month. It’s certainly doable, but most agents don’t earn their 6-figure income this way. The average Realtor completes about 12 transactions per year.

High-Value Real Estate

Instead of scrambling to sell 14 homes in a calendar year to earn $100,000 or more, the most successful agents focus on high-dollar luxury real estate. 

If an agent sells a $750,000 home, they stand to earn about $22,500 from the transaction. Sell four more houses in that price range, and you’re making more than $100,000/year. 

Of course, these examples don’t take additional costs of operation into account. Some agents split their portion of each commission with their broker.

Some are required to cover the costs of their marketing, desk fees, professional association dues, administrative employees, and other expenses out of pocket. 

So the actual amount an agent takes home once all is said and done may be considerably less than the initial 3% commission amount. 

How Much Do Most Top Producing Real Estate Agents Make?

Data shows that the top producing agents (the top 10% of earners) can make anywhere from $112,000 to millions of dollars each year. Every broker has different requirements for an agent to be considered a top producer. 

Some rank agents as top producers if they sell a million dollars of real estate in a year. Some consider agents who sell one home per month a top producers.

Real estate agents who are earning upwards of $500,000 per year may be considered mega-star agents—the best of the top producers.

Location is another major factor in what it takes to be a top-producing agent and how much you can make. In competitive real estate markets, an agent would need to sell more to become a top producer than in smaller markets.

And in smaller markets with less housing inventory and luxury real estate, it may be impossible to reach the income levels of agents in booming real estate markets. 

So, How Much Money Can a Real Estate Agent Make?

The responses we collected from top-producing agents show flexibility in income potential. Some consistently earn $150,000 to $200,000 per year.

Some are part of successful real estate teams, and they expect their best agents to bring home more than $2,000,000 per year. Others set goals to earn at least $1,000,000 in gross commissions each year.

Put into the most basic terms, a top-producing real estate agent can set goals to make anywhere from $150K to more than $2 million per year. 

According to our expert panel of agents, these goals are well within reach for many talented real estate professionals. What it takes: dedication, skill, and good business sense. 

A few of our participants advised finding ways to save time and boost productivity (like hiring an administrative assistant), focusing on the right markets, managing the business effectively, and trimming expenses where you can.  

If you’re considering a career in real estate, you probably won’t earn a million dollars the first year. But if you’re willing to put in the work to build a thriving real estate business, a 6-figure payday isn’t as far away as you might think.