Market Leader recently surveyed over 3,000 real estate professionals to determine how happy they are. The goal was to find out how various aspects of their careers and lives – like their marital status and commission splits – can impact their happiness. The “Happiest Agent on the Block” survey assessed agent happiness using the following four important metrics: happiness with their real estate careers, incomes, the tasks they complete on a day-to-day basis (e.g., following up with leads and attending client appointments), and life in general.
The results of the “Happiest Agent on the Block” survey contained many surprises tidbits which have significantly increased Market Leader’s understanding of who real estate agents are as people, not just professionals. An infographic featuring some of the most compelling survey findings can be found below. Our general survey findings about agent happiness are listed beneath it.
Key Takeaways about Agent Happiness
Real estate agents are remarkably happy people. A whopping 53 percent of agents claim they are “very happy” with their lives, while only 33 percent of Americans can say the same. This means that real estate agents are 60 percent more likely to be very happy with their lives than the average American!
The real estate industry also produces an impressive number of happy workers. Eighty-four percent of agents say they’re happy with their careers, while only 53 percent of Americans report the same. Despite their long and irregular hours, real estate agents are 58 percent more likely to enjoy their jobs than the average American.
Many real estate agents cite helping and meeting people as their favorite part of working in the real estate industry – 37.1 percent claim this is their favorite part of the job! Of the remaining agents, 8.4 percent enjoy their flexible schedules the most, 7.9 percent enjoy the unlimited income potential, and 2.6 percent like the challenges of the job (e.g., finding the perfect home for a client).
Here is what all “Happiest Agent on the Block” respondents enjoyed the least about the real estate industry:
- Rude, disloyal, and uncooperative clients – 11.9 percent of respondents.
- Rude, immoral, and unprofessional agents – 10.7 percent.
- Paperwork – 10.3 percent.
- Issues with leads or lead generation – 5 percent.
- Long hours – 2.8 percent.
Of the reasons agents joined the real estate industry, those who joined because they wanted to meet new people are most likely to be happy, while agents who wanted to have a flexible schedule are the least likely to be happy. This makes sense, as real estate is an inherently social industry where meeting new people is a part of the daily grind, while the “flexible” schedules real estate professionals have don’t keep them from working long hours.
Tools and Technologies
Real Estate Tools and Technologies
Business websites, email marketing systems, and CRMs are equally as important for agents’ happiness as they are for helping their businesses grow. Agents who use these three technologies are more likely to be happy with their real estate careers, incomes and daily tasks than agents who don’t use them.
While agents who get the majority of their leads from networking are happiest with their real estate careers, and agents who get the majority of their leads from referrals are most likely to be happy with their incomes, agents who get the majority of their leads from their personal websites are most likely to be happy with both their careers and incomes.
Agents who use Apple products (iPads, iPhones, and Mac computers) are more likely to be happy with their real estate careers and incomes than agents who use rival products (PCs and Android phones and tablets).
Agents under the age of 30 notwithstanding, there doesn’t appear to be a correlation between an agent’s age and his level of happiness with career and income. It’s not surprising that younger agents tend to be less satisfied, given that they tend to have less industry experience and thus generate fewer leads, close less transactions and make relatively little in commission income.
Agents tend to become less happy with their daily tasks the older they become, but age appears to have no bearing on happiness with life in general.
Agents who are in their first marriage are the most likely to be happy, while agents who are single and have never been married are the least likely to be happy. Agents who are single following their first divorce are only slightly more likely to be happy than their single, never-married peers.
The trend of married agents being happier than their unmarried counterparts is also true in the U.S. as a whole.
There are no easily discernable trends between education and agent happiness. While improving education is generally thought to increase the average person’s well-being (and thus their happiness), getting an associate, bachelor’s or graduate degree frequently doesn’t pay off in terms of improving the happiness of real estate professionals!
Here are our findings on how education affects agent happiness:
- There seems to be a slight correlation between increased income and agent happiness with life in general. This isn’t particularly surprising, as highly educated Americans tend to earn more, have higher job satisfaction, and lead healthier lifestyles than their lesser-educated peers.
- Generally speaking, it appears that the more education agents have, the more likely they are to be happy with their real estate careers. There are some exceptions, however. For example, those who have taken some college courses are slightly more likely to be happy with their real estate careers than those who have a bachelor’s degree and have taken some graduate school courses.
- There doesn’t appear to be a correlation between an agent’s education and happiness with real estate income. In fact, the agents who are happiest with their real estate incomes are those who have only earned a high school diploma. This disconnect is most likely due to the income expectations of highly educated agents (i.e., their failure to make as much as they expect to earn), as we found there is a positive correlation between agent education and commission income.
- There is a slight inverse correlation between education and agent happiness with their real estate tasks; the more education an agent receives, the less likely he is to enjoy the daily tasks that are work-related!
Southern agents are typically the most likely to be happy, while agents from the West are the least likely to be happy. This is surprising because the West is home to many perennially happy states like Colorado and Hawaii, while the South (particularly West Virginia, Alabama and Mississippi) tend to dominate the opposite end of the happiness scale.
Men are slightly more likely to be happy with their real estate careers, incomes and tasks than women, though women are more likely to be happy with their lives in general.
Real Estate Income
It shouldn’t come as a surprise that there is a direct correlation between an agent’s commission income and happiness with career and income. The more agents earn, the more likely they are to be happy! The survey also showed a connection between commission income and agent happiness with life in general and work tasks.
Agents with commission splits closest to 90/10 are most likely to be happy for all happiness metrics. Unsurprisingly, agents with 60/40 commission splits are typically the least likely to be happy. The former category of agents is 76.5 percent more likely to be happy with their real estate incomes than those in the latter category!
Transactions Completed Per Year
The more transactions that agents complete each year, the more likely they are to be happy with their real estate careers, incomes, tasks and life in general. This trend is most obvious with the first two of these happiness metrics. Agents who close between 16 and 20 transactions a year (around 50 percent more transactions than the NAR average of 12) are 24 percent more likely to be happy with their real estate careers and 163 percent more likely to be happy with their real estate incomes than agents who only close between one and five transactions.
Real Estate Career
Work Group Type
Real estate agents who work alone are least likely to be happy with all aspects of their jobs. Agents who work on teams are most likely to be happy with their real estate incomes and tasks, while those who work with partners are most likely to be happy with their careers.
Hours Worked Per Week
There is a direct correlation between the number of hours an agent works each week and happiness with career, income, and tasks. Surprisingly, the more agents work, the happier they are! This fact runs against the method of attaining happiness outlined in the popular book “The 4-Hour Workweek,” in which the author advocates working less to enjoy life more.
Generally speaking, the more industry experience agents have, the more likely they are to be happy with their real estate careers and incomes. This makes perfect sense, as experience helps agents become better at their jobs and, in turn, earn more commission income. Agents with five years of industry experience are 94 percent more likely to be happy with their real estate incomes than their peers with less experience!
However, industry experience does not seem to impact how happy agents are with the tasks they complete on a day-to-day basis unless they have been in the industry for 40 or more years (something Market Leader has dubbed the “I’m too old for this” effect). The key takeaway from this finding is that the tools and technologies agents use – not their industry experience – drive how much they enjoy their jobs.
Leads Generated Per Month
Savvy agents know that their business can always benefit from having more leads, and it turns out having more leads also improves their happiness. There is an obvious direct correlation between the volume of leads agents generate each month and their happiness with their real estate careers and incomes. Agents who generate 50 or more leads a month are 68 percent more likely to be happy with their incomes and 20 percent more likely to be happy with their careers than agents who only generate between one and five leads.
Of course, not all leads are created equal. As we discussed above, referral, networking, and leads from agents’ own websites are best for boosting their happiness. Agents who have been getting leads from Market Leader for six or more months are 6.3 percent happier with their real estate careers and 9.5 percent happier with their real estate incomes than the average agent.
Paid Training or Coaching
According to the “Happiest Agent on the Block” survey, agents who pay for real estate training or coaching are less likely to be happy. This seems to defy logic; surely agents with more training and coaching will know how to perform better at their jobs, earn more, and have higher career satisfaction!
While we are unsure why this disconnect exists, it may be due to the difference between what agents who pay for training or coaching expect their careers to be like and how they actually are. For example, an agent who pays for training may expect to have doubled his lead generation capabilities and commission income since he began to pay for coaching. If they only increased by 20 percent, he may feel less happy about his career and income even though they have improved significantly.
Use of an Assistant
While agents with assistants are more likely to be happy with their lives in general and slightly more likely to be happy with their real estate careers, they are less likely to be happy with both their incomes and tasks. The last fact is particularly surprising given that assistants usually take on the organizational and administrative work that can bog down agents.