Where is the best place to be a real estate agent?

by Alistair Helm in


If Wellington agents earn the top income in the country at over $90,000 then the answer is simple – go work in Wellington!

Not quite, the fact is that real estate is not a 9-to-5; Monday to Friday work for which you receive an identical monthly bank credit. Real estate is a self employment option and as with any sole trader business, the more you work the more you should be able to earn.

Whilst we all know this adage is logical but not always right, the fact is people in real estate tend to work longer hours than your average employee.

Taking extensive information from the real estate industry together with insight gained from my role in the industry over the past 6 years I have for 2012 tried to examine the workload of agents around the country to see who are the most productive, who work the longest hours and how do these factors effect the true hourly rate of real estate agents.

I have examined the workload on the basis of the number of sales managed by agents matched to the data for average days on the market. The number of new listings matched to time spent prospecting for business and finally the available inventory on the market during the year and the associated workload in supporting those clients. Add the usual self- management time and office time and I have come up with a total hours per agent per region.

Here are the findings.

The average annual workload of an agent in NZ is 2,033 hours. This compares to a traditional employee working 9 to 5, 5 days a week with holidays and stat days working 1,840 hours.

Agents work 5% longer in a year than most employees.

This drags down their average hourly income for agents to $22.14

Across the regions the scale of the workload is incredible. The most industrious agents are in the Central North Island they on average work 2,775 hours per year. At the other extreme the agents in Nelson seem to have it made; appearing to work a total of just 1,420 hours.

Real estate agents annual workload.png

This measure of workload is only really meaningful when evaluated as an effective hourly rate given the diversity of regional incomes as presented in the analysis of how much an agent in NZ earns.

The conclusion is that the best place to work in real estate in NZ would by this measure of effective hourly rate appear to be in Auckland where agents work an average of 1,557 hours per year for an effective hourly income of $48.88.

Closely following on the heels of Auckland is Wellington and Nelson. Eight of the 19 regions have an effective rate in excess of $25 per hour, or put another way, the majority of regions have an effective income at an hourly rate below $25 per hour.

Effective hourly rate of real estate agents.png

Alarming is probably the fact that 5 regions have an effective hourly rate below the minimum wage of $12 an hour with agents in the Wairarapa working an average of 2,314 hours per year for an effective hourly rate of $9.36.

Again as mentioned in prior analysis these incomes are gross and have to support business costs, which have been estimated at around $10,000 per annum.