2017’s Best Places to Be a Real-Estate Agent

2017-best-and-worst-cities-to-be-a-real-estate-agent 4

“Location, location, location” might be the most hackneyed expression in the real-estate profession, but the principle applies just as much to realtors as it does to their clients. After all, success in the industry hinges on both an agent’s work ethic and area of operation.

Indeed, a career in real estate offers abundant perks. You can be your own boss, determine your own schedule, earn a potentially high income, and be ready to help your clients buy, rent or sell properties in just a few weeks or months, depending on your state’s licensing requirements. With time and experience, you could even build your own real-estate brokerage and hire your own agents.

But the job isn’t always a bowl of cherries, especially at the onset, as most established agents are inclined to admit. It requires real commitment, work outside normal business hours, a likeable personality and financial stability — in case of a tough season.

To determine the best markets for this particular profession, WalletHub’s analysts compared 150 of the largest U.S. cities across 14 key indicators of a healthy real-estate environment. Our data set ranges from “sales per agent” to “annual median wage for real-estate agents” to “housing-market health index.” Read on for our findings, advice and insight from experts, and a full description of our methodology.

The real-estate market is often unpredictable. For advice and insight on the current and future conditions shaping the industry, we turned to a panel of experts for their thoughts on the following key questions:

  1. Should real-estate agents feel threatened by new apps and other online tools offering services to potential homebuyers?
  2. How can real-estate agents protect themselves from the “boom-bust” cycle of the housing market?
  3. What tips do you have for a young real-estate agent? What does he or she need to do in order to get ahead in the current marketplace?
  4. In evaluating the best cities for real estate agents, what are the top five indicators?
  5. How likely is it that the Federal Reserve would increase interest rates again in the coming months? How would that impact real-estate agents?

In order to determine the best cities for real-estate agents, WalletHub’s analysts compared 150 of the most populated U.S. cities across two key dimensions, including “Job Opportunity & Competition” and “Real-Estate Market Health.” Our sample considers only city proper in each case and excludes cities in the surrounding metro area.

We evaluated the two dimensions using 14 relevant metrics, which are listed below with their corresponding weights. Each metric was graded on a 100-point scale, with 100 representing the most favorable conditions for real-estate agents. Data for the metrics marked with an asterisk (*) were available at the state level only.

We then calculated the overall score for each city based on its weighted average across all metrics and used the resulting scores to rank the cities accordingly.

Overall Rank


Total Score

‘Job Opportunity & Competition’ Rank

‘Real-Estate Market Health’ Rank

1Honolulu, HI60.76147
2Seattle, WA60.5752
3Denver, CO58.3084
4Boston, MA55.20423
5Aurora, CO54.041212
6Madison, WI52.751616
7Reno, NV52.701427
8San Francisco, CA51.841142
9Irvine, CA51.82329
10Austin, TX51.781038
11Colorado Springs, CO51.642315
12Portland, OR51.432218
13Henderson, NV50.82508
14Lincoln, NE50.772913
15Santa Rosa, CA50.46673
16Spokane, WA50.44770
17Nashville, TN49.76883
18Vancouver, WA49.245414
19Washington, DC48.893726
20New York, NY48.212119
21Bakersfield, CA47.851379
22Grand Rapids, MI47.782850
23Tacoma, WA47.735228
24Las Vegas, NV47.605335
25San Jose, CA47.422166
26North Las Vegas, NV47.365532
27Port St. Lucie, FL47.336820
28Rancho Cucamonga, CA47.291875
29Lexington-Fayette, KY47.164043
30Glendale, CA46.914845
31Plano, TX46.697919
32Tampa, FL46.531176
33Durham, NC46.506439
34Gilbert, AZ46.0911210
35St. Petersburg, FL45.971207
36Memphis, TN45.841471
37Riverside, CA45.823071
38Ontario, CA45.793863
39San Diego, CA45.785151
40Orlando, FL45.6211811
41Sioux Falls, SD45.612491
42Irving, TX45.298124
43Atlanta, GA45.141405
44Fremont, CA45.112790
45Amarillo, TX44.9919112
46Dallas, TX44.759230
47Boise, ID44.697331
48Chandler, AZ44.6711622
49Grand Prairie, TX44.659033
50Tempe, AZ44.5111025
51Los Angeles, CA44.387749
52Huntington Beach, CA44.374677
53Oakland, CA44.336358
54Virginia Beach, VA44.294186
55Peoria, AZ44.2012221
56Huntsville, AL43.906660
57Mesa, AZ43.8213217
58Fontana, CA43.824487
59Fort Worth, TX43.8010636
60Santa Clarita, CA43.589548
61Stockton, CA43.586765
62Rochester, NY43.5426106
63Salt Lake City, UT43.526546
64Chattanooga, TN43.473596
65Moreno Valley, CA43.403393
66Worcester, MA43.3415116
67Raleigh, NC43.3010544
68Charlotte, NC43.237453
69Oceanside, CA43.157261
70Overland Park, KS43.156172
71Chesapeake, VA43.105980
72Tallahassee, FL43.014294
73Anaheim, CA43.019154
74Fort Wayne, IN42.9225145
75Oxnard, CA42.8620110
76Phoenix, AZ42.7312634
77Pembroke Pines, FL42.699452
78Arlington, TX42.688362
79Columbus, OH42.669855
80Buffalo, NY42.6517127
81San Bernardino, CA42.586976
82Yonkers, NY42.523143
83Scottsdale, AZ42.507868
84Pittsburgh, PA42.474398
85Lubbock, TX42.445759
86Jersey City, NJ42.1831107
87Sacramento, CA41.9513537
88Knoxville, TN41.7949102
89Glendale, AZ41.7313341
90Long Beach, CA41.6410267
91Corpus Christi, TX41.5239144
92Minneapolis, MN41.368281
93Indianapolis, IN41.369149
94Garden Grove, CA41.1910474
95El Paso, TX41.1733131
96Mobile, AL40.986297
97Cape Coral, FL40.7214329
98Modesto, CA40.6012557
99Fresno, CA40.5112164
100Santa Ana, CA40.4810088
101Garland, TX40.4610878
102St. Paul, MN40.469685
103St. Louis, MO40.1811283
104Norfolk, VA40.118495
105Chula Vista, CA40.0610389
106Tulsa, OK40.0436118
107Birmingham, AL39.7612769
108Newport News, VA39.6160111
109Miami, FL39.439792
110Albuquerque, NM39.269982
111Hialeah, FL38.9811984
112Montgomery, AL38.9645133
113Laredo, TX38.6793101
114Jacksonville, FL38.2214556
115Augusta, GA38.1758122
116Winston-Salem, NC38.0356121
117Tucson, AZ37.9012499
118Little Rock, AR37.3689115
119Akron, OH37.35114104
120Houston, TX37.3370137
121Richmond, VA37.26123100
122Louisville, KY37.2447141
123Fort Lauderdale, FL36.9771124
124Newark, NJ36.8386123
125Oklahoma City, OK36.8180128
126Kansas City, MO36.52111114
127Anchorage, AK35.8375142
128Chicago, IL35.70107120
129Baton Rouge, LA35.3085132
130Wichita, KS35.2115040
131Aurora, IL34.68109126
132Brownsville, TX34.65138103
133Philadelphia, PA34.60139113
134Cincinnati, OH34.50134117
135Omaha, NE34.3887138
136Baltimore, MD33.72144108
137Providence, RI33.65115130
138Des Moines, IA33.59142105
139Greensboro, NC33.32136125
140San Antonio, TX32.9376148
141Toledo, OH32.31130134
142Cleveland, OH32.09149109
143Columbus, GA31.43129139
144Milwaukee, WI31.08137135
145Detroit, MI30.58146129
146New Orleans, LA29.52141140
147Springfield, MO28.91148136
148Fayetteville, NC28.85101147
149Shreveport, LA28.82131146
150Jackson, MS26.78128150

Job Opportunity & Competition – Total Points: 60

  • Sales per Agent: Full Weight (~7.50 Points)
  • Median Home Price: Full Weight (~7.50 Points)
    Note: Real-estate agents are typically paid a commission based on the value of the home sold.
  • Annual Median Wage for Real-Estate Agents: Full Weight (~7.50 Points)
  • Real-Estate Employment Attractiveness: Full Weight (~7.50 Points)
    Note: This metric measures both real-estate job density (number of real-estate agents per working-age population) and competition (number of real-estate job openings per résumé).
  • Real-Estate Employment Growth (2013–2015): Full Weight (~7.50 Points)
  • Annual Median Wage Growth for Real-Estate Jobs (2013–2015): Full Weight (~7.50 Points)
  • Unemployment Rate: Full Weight (~7.50 Points)
  • Projected Number of Real-Estate Jobs Needed by 2020 per Capita*: Full Weight (~7.50 Points)

Real-Estate Market Health – Total Points: 40

  • Home Turnover Rate: Full Weight (~6.67 Points)
  • Housing-Market Health Index: Full Weight (~6.67 Points)
  • Days on Market: Full Weight (~6.67 Points)
  • Average Ratio of Home Sale Price to Home List Price: Full Weight (~6.67 Points)
  • Building-Permit Activity: Full Weight (~6.67 Points)
    Note: This metric measures the number of unit permits pulled per capita.
  • Percentage of Home Flips: Full Weight (~6.67 Points)
    Note: RealtyTrac defines a home flip as “a property that is sold in an arms-length sale for the second time within a 12-month period based on publicly recorded sales deed data.”

Sources: Data used to create this ranking were collected from the U.S. Census Bureau, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Zillow, Indeed, Projections Central – State Occupational Projections and ATTOM Data Solutions (RealtyTrac).