How Many Homes Does a Realtor Sell a Year, and Should You Care?

You need a great real estate agent to sell your home. To find one, you want to go in knowing all the facts, like: how many homes does a Realtor® sell in a year? With many agents boasting “top producer” or “#1 agent” status in your city, it’s critical to understand what’s typical for the industry and how your agent stacks up against their peers.

The truth is — the number of homes an individual agent sells in a year can vary widely. In the U.S., there are over 2 million active real estate licensees and 1.3 million Realtors®, or real estate licensees who’ve taken an extra step to become certified members of the National Association of Realtors (NAR).

Some agents sell a single house per year for their friend, while others — we’re looking at you, Ben Caballero — have built empires to facilitate 5,801 sales annually with sophisticated tech systems.

But those are the extremes.

Here’s what industry metrics say is a typical number of sales per year for a Realtor® and why the figure is only one of many performance indicators you should be weighing in your search for the right agent.

Homes that were sold by realtors.
Source: (Ahmad Omari / Unsplash)

Tallying a Realtor’s® yearly sales

According to NAR, Realtors® completed a median of 12 residential “transaction sides” in 2019. Keep in mind that transaction sides are not a strict measure of homes sold. An agent earns a transaction side when they help either a buyer or a seller close a sale.

That means for every transaction in real estate, there are two sides: one claimed by the agent representing the seller, and one claimed by the agent representing the buyer. If the Realtor® represents both buyer and seller, then they would earn two sides.

NAR doesn’t isolate what percentage of “sides” in their calculation represents a Realtor’s® median number of homes sold versus homes bought.

If we assume it’s about 50/50 for example’s sake, the average Realtor® would sell an estimated six homes and help clients buy an estimated six homes per year. In reality, this breakdown will vary among Realtors®, some of whom may do more listings versus buy side transactions than others.

Not far off from NAR’s reported data: one Midwest real estate franchisor estimates that the average agent sells 4 to 5 homes a year.

Part-timers and hobbyists sell fewer homes

Compared to the high flying agents on reality TV shows, it might surprise you to learn that Realtors® worked a median 36 hours per week in 2019, according to the NAR, and made a median gross income of $49,700. However, these figures also account for Realtors® who don’t pursue real estate as a full time job.

If an agent sells fewer than four homes in a year, they’re likely a hobbyist or part-timer who helps friends and family members now and again. They  may treat real estate as an after-work gig, side hustle, or post-retirement activity. Or they may be a full-time agent who is just getting their sea legs.

Top producers and teams do more business

However, there are also a lot of agents who sell more homes than the average range. In one online real estate forum, Westminster, Maryland Realtor® Paul Hudson shared that at his firm, selling 15 homes per year is average. He personally sells around 20-25, and the top agent for the office does 40-50 — but with the help of a full-time assistant.

If an agent is selling 50-plus or into the hundreds of homes per year range, you can expect that the agent has help in the form of assistants and transaction coordinators, or in some cases, a full-blown team structure.

“Many times, an agent will show you that they have 150 sales in a year, but he’s got four other people buying and selling under him,” says Ron Thieme, a Honesdale, PA agent who’s been selling homes for 30 years.

In a real estate team structure, it’s not uncommon for the manager, who oversees all transactions, to count each one towards their total transaction sides.

So the high sales number could be a reflection of a seasoned agent who now runs a team. If a seller chooses to work with a team’s leader, it doesn’t necessarily mean they’ll work with that leader directly for the whole transaction. The leader will likely have a few agents on their team who help to handle much of the day-to-day work.

Some agents sell fewer homes at a higher price point

In measuring the success of an agent, the number of sales — or if you want to count buyer deals as well, then transaction sides — is only a part of the picture. Realtors® get paid on commission. Listing agents collect a 5.8% on average, and then split that with the buyer’s agent. Brokers on both sides also take a portion of the commission.

But the more valuable the home, the more a real estate agent is going to make per sale. In Thieme’s second-homes market of Honesdale, Pennsylvania; known for its recreational opportunities to boat, hike, and raft; homes range anywhere from $100,000 or less to $2 million plus.

An agent who is geared toward the higher priced lakefront homes in his area will have fewer sales in many cases, he says, whereas another agent is going to have to sell a lot of $100,000 houses to make an equivalent amount of money.

For that reason: “An agent might sell 20 homes and be very successful as opposed to somebody who sells 50-80 homes,” Thieme explains. “So I would say that the determining factor on how many actual sales somebody does is the price point. The larger, higher priced sales sometimes require a lot more work.”

Realtor® boards award members for units sold and sales volume

To get an idea how different areas of the country measure what an exceptional number of Realtor® sales per year is, here’s how some Realtor® associations measure “top producer” status:

Sacramento: Members of the Sacramento Association of Realtors “Masters Club” must earn $5 million in sales volume and have 8 transactions or have 20 total transactions.

Chicago: The Chicago Association of Realtors starts their awards program with agents who’ve sold more than $8 million in sales volume or sold 27-29 units per year.

Iowa: The Iowa Association of Realtors starts offering awards to agents who participate in at least $1 million worth of sales or listings closed — they don’t measure transaction sides.

Note that “sales volume” is a measure of the total value of the properties an agent represents in a year. So if you sell three $500,000 homes in a year, you’d have a sales volume of $1.5 million. HomeLight gives agents a “Top Producer” badge if they rank in the top 5% of agents based on total sales volume for their area.

A home sold by a Realtor.
Source: (Grant Durr / Unsplash)

Sales per year is just the tip of the iceberg

An agent’s sales per year is just one indicator of their performance. You can’t necessarily tell, based on that number alone, whether an agent is qualified to list your home and the right fit for you. Consider these other measures of performance in your search:

Homes sold in your area

An agent who regularly sells homes just down the street from yours could have valuable insight into your specific market. They’ll also be advocates and experts for the area, highlighting perks like local coffee shops, walking trails, and convenient access to the grocery store to potential buyers.

When you go through HomeLight to meet your real estate agent, you’ll be able to see their number of transactions isolated by year. In addition, our transaction heat map drills down into the number of transactions at the neighborhood level. To get even more granular, you can do a search for your location using the “Transactions Near You” feature.

A HomeLight profile of an agent.

Years of experience

“How long has an agent been in business?” Thieme advises sellers to consider. “That tells you whether someone has the wherewithal, the knowledge and the experience to withstand the ups and downs of the market. Someone’s who’s been in the business a long time has figured out how to survive and how to help sellers in markets that are very strong and also markets that are weak where it’s harder to sell.”

Reviews and ratings

When you search for an agent with HomeLight, you can quickly find client reviews on their recent transactions. This is where you can get firsthand accounts of what it’s like to work with an agent and what their strengths are.

Note that on the HomeLight platform, “reviews” and “recommendations” are split into two groupings. Reviews are those solicited directly from HomeLight clients, whereas recommendations are content that an brings in from external review sources such as their personal website.

Average days on market

Days on market (DOM) tracks the time between when a house is listed and when it goes under contact with a buyer. If an agent’s average DOM is lower than average, it’s a good sign that they price homes correctly to attract quick offers and come out of the gate with a strong marketing plan for their listings.

According to NAR, the national average DOM for a home hovers around 3 weeks, but DOM trends vary from city to city. HomeLight’s agent platform tracks average DOM and how agents in your area stack up against their competition. Agents awarded with HomeLight’s “Sells Homes Fast” badge are among the top 5% of agents based on average days on market for seller transactions.

Types of properties sold

A listing agent who usually sells single-family homes might not be the best person to stage, market, and navigate the HOA rules of your townhome or condo — and vice versa. HomeLight makes it easy to see what types of properties an agent has historically sold and whether it’s aligned with the home you need to sell.

Area of expertise

If your home sale requires someone with a certain set of skills, you can review the “Specialties” section of an agent’s HomeLight profile where they can list areas of expertise including luxury, investment, waterfront, or probate properties.

Average sale-to-list price ratio

The sale-to-list price ratio tells you what percent of the asking price a home actually sells for. If a house is listed at $250,000, and sells at $230,000, the sale-to-list ratio would be 92%. If a house sells over asking, the sale-to-list ratio will be over 100%. An agent’s average sale-to-list ratio indicates how accurate they are at pricing homes, and how much of a seller’s list price they’re likely able to deliver. The higher their average sale-to-list price ratio, the better their track record.

Get the whole story before you hire an agent

When you’re looking for your perfect real estate agent, knowing how many homes they usually sell per year can be a helpful datapoint to know. But it can’t give you the entire picture. Ideally, an agent’s experience should also be tailored to your specific neighborhood, property type, and price point. That’s why we’ve built our agent-matching platform at HomeLight around surfacing those objective performance indicators. Whenever you’re ready, we’re here to help connect you with the best agent for your individual needs.

Header Image Source: (Monkey Business Images / Shutterstock)