Most real estate agents are independent contractors. That means we are self employed. Most of us work on a 100% commission basis, and we only get paid if we sell a house and then only if the sale closes. Sometimes we work with a buyer or seller and never get paid a dime.
Working for a commission is not the same as working on a time and materials basis. There are no billable hours. Most people with traditional jobs get paid for the time they put in instead of just being paid for a certain outcome. There risk involved in working on a 100% commission.
There are some who believe real estate agents are overpaid. Real estate commissions are negotiable. Contrary to popular belief there is no “standard” commission. We get paid for our experience, and a good agent can save a home buyer or seller thousands of dollars.
Here is some factual information about how much Realtors and real estate agents actually make:
According to the 2013 NAR membership profile Median gross income of Realtors® 43,000 in 2012 up from 34,900 in 2011
Realtors with 16 or more years experience had a median gross of 57,300. Realtors with 2 or less years had a median gross of 9,700 and according to Salary.com the median expected income for a US real estate agent is $38,027.