You know you want a career as a real estate agent. You haven’t committed to a specialty yet, and you’re in a position to live wherever you like. What are some of the top cities for real estate agents, and what are some variables to consider?
A.J. Smith, vice president of content at smartasset, a New York City–based firm that offers free data to address personal finance questions, says that compensation is just one factor of many that will determine where to build your career. She notes that different markets get hot at different times, but some are consistently more promising than others. Which one you’ll choose, she says, has a lot to do with the type of career you want.
Determining the best cities for real estate agents
“According to our latest study, the number-one metropolitan area in terms of average overall compensation per real estate agent—salary and commissions—is Denver,” she says. “But currently, Reno, Nevada ranks higher in our survey because that market is so hot right now. Prices there have risen so rapidly.”
Smartasset’s study, “The Top 10 Best Cities to Be a Real Estate Agent,” considers four factors:
- Home turnover rate (the percentage of all homes in a city that were sold in the previous year)
- The percentage change, year over year, in median sales price
- Competition, as represented by number of homes sold per agent
- Median real estate agent compensation
“The more informed you are about the markets you’re considering, the better,” Smith says. “There are some markets where turnover just isn’t happening right now. And of course moving to a new market could be advantageous in the long run, but you have to learn that area before you can start selling homes in it.”
Analyzing the data on the real estate market
Smith explains that smartassets’ studies aren’t predictive, but they do show recent trends. And it’s sometimes possible, from examining those data, to get an idea of where a market is headed. She added that several real estate markets that might not show up on most agents’ radar are currently worth looking into.
“Lincoln, Nebraska, has one of the highest ratios of sales per agent,” she says. “Peoria, Illinois is also very high. It could be that there are fewer full-time agents there.”
Choosing a market is often about tendencies. For example, in markets where restrictions and regulations are few, home sales are likely to blow very hot and very cold, depending on economic conditions. Markets that are heavily regulated might show consistently high demand for housing, and consequent high prices—but availability might be chronically low, keeping sales volume down. Markets that tend to have a young, transient population—such as New York City, Chicago, and San Francisco—might be good locations for an agent who specializes in rentals.
As an agent, it’s best to keep an eye not only on home sales statistics, but on the movement of employers into and out of a given market, or the development of an industry, or even legislation that might make a certain state more business-friendly, and thus likely to attract incomers. As in most walks of life, knowledge is power.
According to the smartasset study, here are the top cities for real estate agents:
- Las Vegas, Nevada
- Reno, Nevada
- Rockford, Illinois
- Eugene, Oregon
- Naples, Florida
- Sacramento, California
- San Jose, California
- Denver, Colorado
- Chicago, Illinois
- New York, New York
Learn what it takes to become a real estate agent in one of these top real estate markets. Click on the links above, or check out the short video below.