“Location, location, location” might be the catchphrase of the real-estate profession, but it 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.
The current real estate market is difficult for buyers, because even though interest rates are low, inventory is down by more than half compared to last year. Certain cities are bigger hotspots than others, though. In the coming year, real-estate agents may want to relocate to places with the highest demand for housing, and that pay the best for their expert guidance.
To determine the best markets for this particular profession, WalletHub compared more than 170 U.S. cities across 22 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.
Best Cities for Real-Estate Agents
Job Opportunity & Competition
Real-Estate Market Health
|2||Pearl City, HI||58.65||7||14|
|4||Salt Lake City, UT||56.78||20||5|
|10||San Jose, CA||54.30||3||134|
|13||West Valley City, UT||53.05||44||21|
|17||San Diego, CA||52.69||10||72|
|22||Overland Park, KS||52.11||47||28|
|23||Sioux Falls, SD||51.99||33||25|
|24||San Francisco, CA||51.92||8||105|
|26||Kansas City, MO||51.88||67||19|
|29||Virginia Beach, VA||51.42||25||65|
|34||Rancho Cucamonga, CA||50.93||26||74|
|36||South Burlington, VT||50.79||28||57|
|38||Colorado Springs, CO||50.38||14||107|
|40||Los Angeles, CA||50.19||13||114|
|43||Santa Rosa, CA||49.76||53||38|
|48||Fort Smith, AR||49.14||74||36|
|49||St. Petersburg, FL||48.85||69||54|
|55||Port St. Lucie, FL||48.57||36||91|
|57||Huntington Beach, CA||48.07||34||128|
|59||Chula Vista, CA||47.80||116||48|
|61||Des Moines, IA||47.70||41||127|
|76||Fort Worth, TX||47.09||133||27|
|82||Santa Ana, CA||46.35||61||125|
|83||Moreno Valley, CA||46.33||112||70|
|84||Garden Grove, CA||46.25||80||99|
|85||Newport News, VA||46.15||88||101|
|86||Fort Wayne, IN||46.13||120||4|
|87||Las Vegas, NV||46.05||56||137|
|88||Cape Coral, FL||45.93||96||86|
|98||New York, NY||44.96||5||177|
|100||Santa Clarita, CA||44.90||111||90|
|105||Grand Rapids, MI||44.62||21||159|
|107||Boise City, ID||44.52||148||52|
|108||Long Beach, CA||44.51||95||126|
|114||San Bernardino, CA||44.09||142||77|
|117||Rapid City, SD||43.95||154||13|
|119||Little Rock, AR||43.79||152||83|
|120||North Las Vegas, NV||43.77||129||100|
|122||Grand Prairie, TX||43.64||164||46|
|126||Oklahoma City, OK||43.51||125||109|
|133||San Antonio, TX||42.65||140||94|
|138||Jersey City, NJ||42.21||71||155|
|139||St. Paul, MN||41.96||117||143|
|146||St. Louis, MO||40.43||65||168|
|148||New Orleans, LA||40.00||168||133|
|150||Cedar Rapids, IA||39.74||160||117|
|156||El Paso, TX||39.00||173||95|
|158||Fort Lauderdale, FL||38.84||90||171|
|162||Pembroke Pines, FL||37.41||97||173|
|168||New Haven, CT||35.92||122||174|
|170||Baton Rouge, LA||35.39||170||148|
|178||Las Cruces, NM||32.46||174||149|
|179||Corpus Christi, TX||31.64||178||146|
Note: With the exception of “Total Score,” all of the columns in the table above depict the relative rank of that city, where a rank of 1 represents the best conditions for that metric category.
Ask the Experts
The real-estate market is often unpredictable. For advice and insight on the current market and future of the industry, we turned to a panel of experts for their thoughts on the following key questions:
- Should real-estate agents feel threatened by new apps and other online tools offering services to potential homebuyers?
- How can real-estate agents protect themselves from the “boom-bust” cycle of the housing market?
- Real estate has always experienced ups and downs, often in line with economic cycles. What are some ways a real estate agent can adapt their strategy during the pandemic?
- What tips do you have for a young real-estate agent? What does he or she need to do to get ahead in the current market?
- In evaluating the best cities for real estate agents, what are the top five indicators?
- How likely is it that the Federal Reserve would increase interest rates again in the coming months? How would that impact real-estate agents?
- Even though COVID-19 has sent the U.S economy into recession, the housing market has boomed. How has the pandemic affected the demand for housing? What will happen to the housing market after the pandemic?
Ask the Experts
In order to determine the best cities for real-estate agents, WalletHub compared 179 cities — including the 150 most populated U.S. cities, plus at least two of the most populated cities in each state — across two key dimensions “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 22 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 determined each city’s weighted average across all metrics to calculate its overall score and used the resulting scores to rank-order our sample.
Job Opportunity & Competition – Total Points: 60
- Sales per Agent: Full Weight (~5.45 Points)
- Median Home Price: Full Weight (~5.45 Points)
Note: Real-estate agents are typically paid a commission based on the value of the home sold.
- Monthly Average Starting Salary for Real-Estate Agents: Full Weight (~5.45 Points)
- Annual Median Wage for Real-Estate Agents: Full Weight (~5.45 Points)
- Real-Estate Employment Attractiveness: Full Weight (~5.45 Points)
Note: This metric measures both real-estate job density (number of real-estate agents per 10,000 working-age population) and competition (number of real-estate job openings per 100 résumés).
- Real-Estate Employment Growth (2018–2020): Full Weight (~5.45 Points)
- Annual Median Wage Growth for Real-Estate Jobs (2018–2020): Full Weight (~5.45 Points)
- Unemployment Rate: Full Weight (~5.45 Points)
- Projected Real-Estate Jobs Needed by 2028 per Capita*: Full Weight (~5.45 Points)
- Number of Work Hours/Pre-License Work Hours Required to Get a Real Estate License*: Full Weight (~5.45 Points)
- Google Search Index for “Real Estate Agents”: Full Weight (~5.45 Points)
Note: This metric measures search interest for “real estate agent,” “real estate broker,” “real estate listings,” “real estate agent near me,” “top real estate agents,” and “houses for sale.”
Real-Estate Market Health – Total Points: 40
- Migration from Urban Neighborhoods During COVID-19 Pandemic: Triple Weight (~8.00 Points)
Note: This metric measures the change in migrants per 100,000 metro area residents, calculated as the difference between the flow in April to December 2020 from the average during the same months in 2017, 2018, and 2019.
- Home Turnover Rate: Full Weight (~2.67 Points)
- Housing-Market Health Index: Full Weight (~2.67 Points)
Note: Includes: Homes Sold for Gain; Sales Previous Foreclosed; Foreclosure Ratio; Zillow Home Value Index; Year over Year change; Stock of REOs (Homes Held by Banks); Mortgage Holders in Negative Equity; Underwater Homeowners Delinquent.
- Zillow Home Value 1-Year Forecast: Full Weight (~2.67 Points)
Note: The Zillow Home Value Forecast is Zillow's prediction of what the Zillow Home Value Index will be one year from now.
- Days on Market: Full Weight (~2.67 Points)
- Average Ratio of Home Sale Price to Home List Price: Full Weight (~2.67 Points)
- Building-Permit Activity: Full Weight (~2.67 Points)
Note: This metric measures the number of unit permits pulled per Capita.
- Share of Home Flips: Full Weight (~2.67 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.”
- WalletHub “Fastest Growing Cities” Rank: Full Weight (~2.67 Points)
- Average Daily COVID-19 Deaths in the Past Week per Capita: Double Weight (~5.33 Points)
- Average Daily COVID-19 Cases in the Past Week per Capita: Double Weight (~5.33 Points)
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, ATTOM Data Solutions (RealtyTrac), InvestFourMore, Google Ads, Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland, The New York Times and WalletHub research.