Just 1 in 5 real estate agents would recommend their career to others and nearly half of agents have to hold a second job, according to a national survey from Redfin.
On the positive side, the survey found that 99% of respondents were proud of their work and 60% of experienced agents said their incomes had increased in the past five years.
The most disliked parts of the job include income unpredictability (42%) and difficulty finding customers (38%).
The findings also revealed that agents are spending more money than they were five years ago on the costs of finding customers like advertising and online lead-generation, despite their increased pervasiveness. The survey findings also suggest that the internet has not led to increased productivity for agents, most of whom said the internet has either caused them to spend more time and effort to close a sale (33%) or hasn’t affected the amount of time they spend (33%).
“What we learned is that agents love the customer relationships and entrepreneurial independence of being an agent but question whether internet technology has made them more productive, and still worry about finding enough customers to earn a steady living,” said Redfin CEO Glenn Kelman.
“The lessons for the broader industry are first that rumors of the agent’s demise are greatly exaggerated. But we should also pay heed to agents’ broad frustration with technology, their struggle to make new lead-generation channels profitable and to meet the demands of a new, more fickle set of young homebuyers,” he added.
Redfin asked several questions about diversity and racial bias in the industry with input from Elizabeth Korver-Glenn, assistant professor of sociology at the University of New Mexico, who has focused her research on how real estate agents connect with customers of different races and ethnicities. Korver-Glenn has researched how white agents often have privileged access to listings, lenders, builders and other resources that benefit white clients, unwittingly perpetuating the segregation that exists in many neighborhoods across the U.S.
Asked about the races and ethnicities of their last 10 clients, the survey found white agents were far more likely to work with white clients compared to non-white agents. White agents said an average of two of their clients were not white, compared with an average of four non-white clients served by non-white agents. Non-white agents were also nearly twice as likely to agree with the statement ‘bias is pervasive’ at 33% compared with 18% of white agents.
“Our hope has been that the internet will mitigate some of the effects caused by the differing social networks of white and non-white agents,” wrote Kelman. “We’ve found that a white customer who might have hired a white agent from her social network is perfectly comfortable hiring an agent of color on Redfin.com, particularly when we can show that agent’s reviews and sales performance.”