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How Much Do Real Estate Agents Make? A Comprehensive Breakdown

Curious "How much do real estate agents make"? Our comprehensive breakdown dives into commissions, salaries, and more! Find your path to success in the exciting world of real estate.

Hilda Workman
Jan 22, 20241586 Shares37761 Views
At various stages of their lives, the majority of individuals will likely seek the assistance of a real estate agent when buying or selling a property. Due to the numerous tasks involved in a real estate transaction, licensed agents play a crucial role in the industry. This article explores the "How Much Do Real Estate Agents Make", the methods through which they earn it, and offers guidance for those interested in pursuing a career as a real estateagent.

How Much Do Real Estate Agents Make

On average, real estate agents in the United States make an annual salary of $94,031, translating to an average monthly income of $6,658. For the latest salary details from Indeed, refer to the provided link.
Real estate agents derive their income from commissions, which are paid to brokers upon the successful closure of home sales. The standard commission typically ranges from 5% to 6% of the listed home price, although the specific agreement may occasionally vary, falling within the range of 1% to 10%.

How Do Real Estate Agents Generate Income

An illustration of a house and two persons shaking hands with money in the air.
An illustration of a house and two persons shaking hands with money in the air.
The income of most real estate agents is tied to the successful sale of homes, with their commission determined by the number of homes sold. Typically, real estate agents receive compensation through a listing agreement established between the seller and the listing agent.
The success of a real estate agent is primarily linked to their efforts. However, as entrepreneurs running small businesses, they must consider various factors when projecting their potential annual income:

Number Of Finalized Home Sales

The greater the number of homes a real estate agent sells, the higher their earnings. Since commission-based income relies on completed sales, successfully closing deals is a crucial aspect of income generation for agents. On average, most agents complete between four to six home sales annually.

Accumulated Years Of Experience As A Real Estate Agent

Building a successful business requires significant time and commitment, and the process of expanding a real estate agent's clientele is no exception. Agents who boast decades of experience have acquired invaluable insights into the real estate market, along with years of knowledge that have led to the development of successful practices. Through each transaction, one gains an understanding of the most effective techniques and learns how to navigate diverse situations.

Established Professional Networks

Real estate agents with extensive networks comprising professional contacts and past clients continue to reap the rewards of these connections. Word of mouth, a highly valuable method for acquiring business, comes at no additional cost to the agent.
Agents who actively cultivate positive and meaningful interactions within the real estate community ensure the ongoing success of their businesses. In contrast, new agents or those less engaged in networking may have fewer connections, limiting opportunities for new business.

Business Expenditures

Apart from relying on organic marketing through word of mouth, real estate agents frequently incur costs for promoting their services and pursuing ongoing education. These expenditures encompass digital advertising, billboards, and park bench advertisements, as well as business-related costs such as internet and cellphone bills, office supplies, fuel, and client meals.

Brokerage Charges

Since real estate agents are unable to operate independently and must function within a brokerage firm, all transactions and commissions are directed to the broker, who then divides the commission among all participating agents.
The standard commission split typically allocates 60% to the agent and 40% to the broker, although alternative arrangements may involve ratios like 50/50 or 70/30. Additionally, certain brokerage firms may impose marketing fees.

Opportunity Landscape

The earning potential for agents varies based on their geographical location. Those operating in major metropolitan areas like New York City and Los Angeles often have greater earning opportunities compared to their counterparts in smaller or rural settings.
For example, if a real estate agent lists a property in an affluent neighborhood with an average listing price of $500,000 as opposed to $200,000, the agent can anticipate earning a higher commission from that sale. It's worth noting that living in bustling areas often comes with a higher cost of living.

Illustration Of Real Estate Commission Earnings

One person handing over the money and keys to other person.
One person handing over the money and keys to other person.
Listing agents commonly collaborate with a buyer's agent, who assists the buyer in finding a home. Consequently, when the transaction concludes, the total commission from the sale is divided between the listing agent and the buyer's agent. Once factoring in the brokers' fees, the overall amount is adjusted. To illustrate, consider a $300,000 home sale with a 6% commission at closing.


A $300,000 home sold with a 6% commission rate yields $18,000. The listing broker and buyer's agent broker each receive $9,000 (half of the total). Subsequently, the brokers distribute the $9,000 to the agents following a 60/40 ratio. The listing agent and buyer's agent each earn $5,400 ($9,000 x 0.6), while each broker retains $3,600.
It's important to note that various scenarios may lead to differences in the final transaction details. For instance, other parties involved in the sales process might claim a share of the profit, or the listing agent may assume the role of the buyer's agent, resulting in a higher profit for them.

Maximizing Earnings As A Real Estate Agent

An illustration of a house and a woman.
An illustration of a house and a woman.
Given that being a real estate agent equates to operating a small business, it's crucial to make strategic decisions that lead to a profitable income. Here are some additional strategies to enhance your earnings as an agent:

Engage In Short Sales

Numerous homeowners encounter challenges in selling their homes when they receive offers insufficient to cover their outstanding bank loans. Listing agents can collaborate with homeowners to negotiate with the bank for a reduced amount. Once an agreement is reached, the agent proceeds to relist the property as a short sale.
It's important to note that obtaining a decision from the bank may take weeks or even months, requiring the agent to navigate the legal steps involved in the short sale process.

Explore Broker Price Opinion (BPO) Services

Licensed agents can supplement their income by undertaking additional tasks such as creating BPO reports. These reports, crafted by licensed appraisers to assess property values, involve comparing multiple home prices alongside pertinent statistics and other information crucial for sellers.

Venture Into Property Management

Property owners often find it challenging to handle the administrative responsibilities associated with property ownership, leading them to opt for the services of property managers. Real estate agents can increase their earnings by taking on the role of property managers, which may encompass tasks such as building maintenance and rent collection.

Diversify Into Commercial Real Estate Sales

Delving into commercial real estatesales can prove to be financially advantageous for agents, thanks to the steady monthly income derived from leases. Unlike solely relying on commissions, leasing involves regular payments, providing a more stable financial stream.
Before approaching potential clients, it's essential to conduct thorough research on the commercial sector. Additionally, updating your website and business cards to highlight this specialization can help attract clients in need of commercial real estate services.

Pursue A Career As A Realtor

A Realtor is a licensed real estate agent committed to upholding a stringent code of ethics, potentially enhancing your credibility and expanding your network within your market. This can contribute to increased sales. Connect with other Realtors to gain insights into the advantages of joining a local chapter of the National Association of Realtors.

Advance To Broker Status

Brokers enjoy numerous benefits compared to individual real estate agents. They oversee agents affiliated with their firm and receive a portion of agents' commissions along with additional administrative fees.
The average national salary for a broker is $70,215 annually, supplemented by $42,000 in commission. For the latest salary details, refer to the provided link.
Brokerage requirements vary by state, so it's crucial to conduct thorough research on the steps necessary to obtain your real estate broker license.

Top 10 Highest Paying Cities For Real Estate Agent Jobs

We have identified ten cities where the standard salary for a Real Estate Agent position surpasses the national average. San Mateo County, CA takes the lead, with Danville, CA, and Issaquah, WA closely following in the second and third positions. Issaquah, WA exceeds the national average by $23,044 (26.9%), and San Mateo County, CA extends this trend with an additional $34,245 (39.9%) above the $85,793 average.
These ten cities, with salaries higher than the national average, present substantial opportunities for financial growth if considering a relocation as a Real Estate Agent.
Furthermore, it is noteworthy that the average salary for these top ten cities exhibits minimal variation, with only a 14% difference between San Mateo County, CA, and Cool Valley, MO. This emphasizes the limited potential for significant wage increases.
The consideration of a potentially lower cost of living may be crucial when evaluating the relationship between location and salary for a Real Estate Agent role.
CityAnnual Salary
San Mateo County, CA$120,038
Danville, CA $109,778
Issaquah, WA$108,837
Richmond, CA$107,475
Kirkland, WA$106,472
Bellevue, WA$105,904
Bolinas, CA$105,673
Westwood, MA$104,722
Lynnwood, WA$103,629
Cool Valley, MO$103,302

The Hourly Wage For Real Estate Agents

Two persons shaking hand with eachother.
Two persons shaking hand with eachother.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average hourly earnings for real estate agents across the nation is $29.56. It's important to note that real estate agents are typically not paid on an hourly basis. This figure is derived by dividing the national average annual income ($61,480) by 2,080 hours, assuming a full-time work schedule.
As a home buyer or seller, you won't receive an itemized bill for the hours your agent invests in your sale. Instead, real estate agents are compensated through commissions once the sale successfully concludes.

Who Covers The Real Estate Agent Commission Costs

Here's a positive note for homebuyers. Typically, the seller is responsible for paying the real estate agent commissions.
For sellers, however, the news is less favorable. Savvy homebuyers often engage their own "buyer's agent," offering valuable expertise, skills, and unwavering support.
Generally, sellers cover the costs for both their agent and the buyer's agent. Although one could argue that the seller funds commissions using the buyer's money, determining the party responsible for the total commission remains subjective.
Regardless of perspective, buyers don't incur additional expenses when hiring their own agent. Without a buyer's agent, the seller's agent retains the entire commission, leaving the buyer without representation.
It's important to note that real estate agents typically charge "commissions" tied to successful transactions, rather than upfront fees or hourly rates. This payment structure means agents only earn when deals successfully close, highlighting the variable nature of their earnings.

Frequently Asked Questions - How Much Do Real Estate Agents Make

How Do I Discover Real Estate Positions That Meet My Salary Expectations?

To align with your salary expectations in a real estate job search, first, evaluate your required income for your local living costs. Customize your search using filters like salary estimate, location, remote options, experience level, and company. Enhance your chances by uploading your resume, allowing employers to discover you and connect with relevant job opportunities swiftly.

How Much Does A Real Estate Agent Make In Dubai?

The average salary for Real Estate Agent is AED 29,500 per month in the Dubai, United Arab Emirates. The average additional cash compensation for a Real Estate Agent in the Dubai, United Arab Emirates is AED 24,500, with a range from AED 988 - AED 117,000.

Is Pursuing A Career In Real Estate A Favorable Choice In The United States?

With salaries surpassing the national average for all occupations, boasting a salary satisfaction score of 70%, and offering over 500,000 job opportunities, real estate stands as an excellent career option for those ready to invest their efforts. Discover more about whether a real estate career suits you by exploring our article on the advantages and disadvantages of being a real estate agent.


In conclusion, the question "How much do real estate agents make?" is multifaceted and depends on various factors. The national average salary, considering commissions, provides a general overview, but the income potential can significantly vary based on location, experience, and market conditions. Real estate agents, operating in a dynamic and competitive field, have the opportunity to earn substantial incomes, especially in high-demand areas. Success in this profession is intricately tied to dedication, networking, and strategic decision-making.
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