Rich Real Estate Agent, Poor Real Estate Agent

Real Estate Technology with ActiveRain

What separates Rich Real Estate Agents from Poor Real Estate Agents?

  • Are men better real estate agents than women?
  • Does age or experience matter?
  • Do top real estate agents use Trulia or Zillow? Or Or
  • Does FaceBook sell houses?

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In real estate there is no "right answer" on how to be successful. BUT, we have found that some agents are "more right" than others.

ActiveRain conducted a survey(1) of 1,758 real estate professionals to find out what separates the top real estate professionals (those earning over $100,000 a year, we'll call them 'Rich Real Estate Agents') from the struggling real estate professionals (those earning under $35,000 a year, we'll call them 'Poor Real Estate Agents'). 379, or 22% of respondents were Rich Real Estate Agents, while 363 or 21% of respondents were Poor Real Estate Agents.

Here's what we learned:


  • Rich real estate agents tend to be MEN (58% male). Poor real estate agents tended to be WOMEN (60% female). 47% of the survey was male.
  • Rich real estate agents have 11-20 years of real estate experience. Poor real estate agents had 4-5 five years of experience. The average was 6-10 years of experience.
  • The average age of the respondent was 51-60 years old. S/he is a college grad with moderate technology experience. Age did not matter between rich and poor real estate agents.

What Seems to Matter:

  • Rich Real Estate Agents invest 6x more in technology
  • Rich Real Estate Agents BROADCAST via social media
  • Rich Real Estate Agents spend 10x more on marketing

What Doesn't Seem to Matter (either it doesn't matter or everyone is using it poorly):

  • FaceBook
  • Real Estate Listing Web Sites - (Zillow, Trulia, and all enjoy 60%+ penetration)
  • Direct Mail


Rich real estate agents invest 6 times as much in technology as poor real estate agents. Every year the average rich real estate agent spends $3,000-5,000 per year on technology, while the poor real estate agent only spends $500-1,000 per year. So, for every one dollar that the poor agent spends on technology, rich agent spends six dollars. Think about this: the average rich real estate spends more money in a month, than some poor real estate agents spend on technology all year.

Where does this spending go?

  1. A top notch IDX site: Why? Because a good web site with home listings and lead capture is the backbone of any successful online marketing campaign.

  2. CRM or Lead management systems: CRM's (customer relationship management systems or a database) are an integral part of their success. This is the most dramatic difference in the survey. Almost twice as many rich real estate agents use a CRM or lead management system than poor real estate agents.

    It's this systematic management of their database that allows rich real estate agents to build a high volume business. This is the most dramatic and visible difference in the entire survey.

  3. Email Marketing: Rich real estate agents aggressively use email marketing. In fact, they touch their clients more frequently through email marketing than their less successful brethren. Many of them send automated listings via their IDX sites, and they are 54% more likely to use email newsletter and drip marketing campaigns.

Real Estate Agent Technology use

Broadcast Social Media Marketing

Rich real estate agents are aggressive in using BROADCAST forms of social media to attract clients. What is broadcast social media? Any form of social media which allows a real estate agent or real estate professional to communicate in a broadcast format which is open on the Internet (unlike FaceBook which is only visible to your friends.)

What forms of social media are Rich Real Estate Agents using?

  1. YouTube and Online Video: We were surprised by this one, as online video has always seemed challenging and time consuming (from a production and editing standpoint). BUT, rich real estate agents are actively posting videos on YouTube , 78% more than poor real estate agents.

  2. Blogging: Rich real estate agents are actively blogging for search engine optimization and building a content library as a “net” for prospective buyers and sellers. Rich real estate agents are using ActiveRain (62%), WordPress (52%), and Blogger (26%) as the most popular blogging sites. Rich real estate agents seem to have a presence on multiple blogging platforms if not all three. (Full disclosure: this survey was conducted by ActiveRain which is the largest blogging platform and social network specifically built for real estate so we would expect the ActiveRain share to be high.)

  3. Twitter & LinkedIn: Rich real estate agents tend to use the micro-blogging platform, Twitter and the business networking site, LinkedIn more actively than poor real estate agents to broadcast their message and generate business referrals.

real estate agent social media use

real estate agent blogging use

Marketing, Marketing, Marketing

The rich real estate agent spends 10 times more on marketing and advertising for their business. That may be the most shocking number of all. The rich real estate agent spends $5,000-$10,000 per year on marketing, while the poor real estate agent spends only $500-$1,000 per year. Again, a rich real estate agent is spending more in 2 weeks than some poor real estate agents spend on marketing ALL YEAR!

How are rich real estate agents spending their marketing dollars?

  1. Hire an Assistant: Top performers leverage their time. 26% of rich real estate agents use an assistant or an agency to help with their marketing, search engine optimization and their lead generation strategies, while only 11% of poor real estate agents use an assistant. Some of these top performers don't know SEO from NBC but they realize the value of their time and the importance of hiring experts.

  2. Internet Marketing: Rich real estate agents prioritize internet marketing and lead generation in general. 2.75 times more rich real estate agents buy Internet marketing services or 'clicks' to their website than poor agents. 2.3 times as many rich real estate agents buy internet leads. Rich real estate agents realize that this investment in their business is likely to pay off because they have the system (IDX web site and CRM/lead management system) in place to convert their investment into business.

  3. The Local Newspaper: Guess real estate agents still advertise in local newspapers. Hard to believe, given all the bad news in the newspaper business. But, if a home buyer or seller is looking for information in the local newspaper, the rich real estate agent is going to be advertising there.

  4. No More Door Knocking or Cold Calling: Rich real estate agents DON’T have time for cold calling and door knocking. They leave that to poor real estate agents who is more likely to hit the streets or the office phone and open up the phone book (shudder, shudder). Rich real estate agents may not consider calling expired listings as cold calling, which may have skewed the numbers a bit.

When asked,”What is the most effective marketing or advertising that you do?” rich real estate agents answered: 1) Personal referrals and word of mouth, 2) blogging, and 3) professional referrals and business networking.

real estate agent marketing trends

So what does NOT matter?
When we looked at the data of what separates the rich real estate agents from the poor real estate agents, technology, broadcast social media, and marketing stuck out. In contrast, the following services were surprising in that they did NOT stick out. This could be that every agent is using them; some could be using them well while the rest are using them poorly. The survey could not tell the difference

1. Facebook: 90% of real estate agents are using FaceBook. Period. Pause. There could be a whole survey on the best ways to use FaceBook which may say Fan Pages are better than Business Pages or Places. But on its face (ha ha), FaceBook does not sell more houses for the rich real estate agent versus the poor real estate agent.

2. Home Listing Aggregation Sites: When asked, "Do you advertise or use the following real estate web sites to market your business?" we saw surprisingly high penetration for the following web sites on average:

  • CraigsList 68%
  • Trulia 64%
  • / 61%
  • Zillow 60%
  • 25%

There was no discernible difference between rich real estate agents and poor real estate agents in their usage of these sites, with one exception: Trulia had a very slight skew towards greater usage among poor real estate agents. In fact, Trulia and FrontDoor Real Estate from HGTV (only 14% usage on average) were the only two real estate web sites with a slightly higher usage among poor real estate agents, perhaps due to the free marketing tools and profiles offered by both web sites.

When you look at overall site usage, some interesting observations come to light. It’s not surprising that Craigslist is the most used site, considering it is free. However, we were surprised to see Trulia with a slight edge over and Zillow. should have a higher penetration given that it is the NAR-sponsored web site. We would have expected Zillow to have higher usage than Trulia, given the amount of publicity that Zillow has attracted from its successful IPO. (Rumor has it that Trulia is preparing to go public in the near future, so it will be fascinating to see their results.) Trulia had a very slight skew towards greater usage among poor real estate agents versus rich real estate agents.

real estate agent website use

3. Direct Mail: Over 60% of respondents use direct mail to market their business. Pause. That's the same percentage of respondents using Zillow, and Trulia. Perhaps people still open the mail and hire their real estate agent based on the refrigerator magnet. More poor real estate agents report using direct mail than have an IDX site. In 2011 how is this possible? Either direct mail continues to be HIGHLY effective or we, as the real estate industry have been slow to change behavior. Hard to tell from the survey, but we at ActiveRain have our suspicions.

By the way, some things are unexplainable but if you are reading this and you use direct mail and you do not have an IDX site do yourself a huge favor and invest in a good one. It could be the reason you make a huge jump in 2012.

Other things which are hard to explain:

  • We are 16 years into the Internet Revolution and three years into the Do Not Call Registry, YET more real estate agents knock on doors and cold call than advertise on the Internet.

  • is the official site of the National Association Realtors (NAR) and has been around for 15 years (or so), but is falling behind Trulia in real estate agent usage, and only slightly ahead of Zillow, both of which have existed for 5-6 years now.

  • Direct mail is the most popular form of real estate advertising. The US Government and Postal Workers Union thank you.

  • Only 15-16% of real estate agents use an assistant to help with marketing. How valuable is your time? If you use this as a metric, most real estate professionals don’t think their time is that valuable .

Not every rich agent is going to follow the exact same road map. I'm sure everyone knows a real estate agent out there with no website who rarely uses email that would land in the 'rich agent' category. Of course these types are becoming more and more rare as the years go by and consumer behavior changes.

We hope that you ask yourself "What kind of things will I be investing in for 2012?" and will those investments pay off like they have for the rich real estate agent.

What do you want to be in 2012? A rich agent or a poor agent?


Webinars the Rich Real Estate Agent would certainly take:

Blogging to Get the Listing - November 16th, 12:00 PST

Advanced Youtube - November 23rd, 12:00pm PST

Choosing a Top Notch IDX - What to Look For - November 28th, 1pm PST

Advanced Blogging - December 2nd, 9am PST

Building and Managing a Successful Database - December 12th, 1pm PST


Download Rich Agent Poor Agent Report

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Click here to create a free account if you do not have one)

(1) ActiveRain Survey conducted in May of 2011. 1,758 ActiveRain members completed the survey. Members were awarded 1,000 ActiveRain points for completion of the survey. For frame of reference, a member can earn 200-500 points for writing a blog on ActiveRain.

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Dianne Goode
Raleigh Cary Realty - Raleigh, NC

Like Sara (above) I'd like to see an update to this research.  We should be able to see trends and maybe some recent innovations like video marketing will be making a measurable difference.

Sep 09, 2014 10:31 PM
Marco Giancola
Beachfront Realty - Miami Beach, FL
Realtor (305)608-1922, Miami Beach Florida

Very interesting and helpful facts. I have to save this info for future reference!

Sep 21, 2014 04:17 AM
Lisa Perry - NMLS # 276329
FHA, VA, Jumbo, Downpayment Assistance, Conv. - Fairfax, VA
Northern VA - VHDA, 100% Loans - Jumbo Loans

Very interesting and informative information.  This is great for everyone.

Nov 03, 2014 08:49 AM
Patrick Laurienti
VIP Real Estate CO - Brighton, CO
My clients never miss out on a opportunity

This helps a lot.  As a new Real Estate Agent this opens my eyes on what to be doing and what not to be doing.  I always look for where the succesfull people leaves clues and this is a gold mine Thanks

Nov 03, 2014 09:11 AM
Marsha Cowan
Happy Home Realty - Chattanooga, TN

Wow, talk about 'food for thought'! Now, time to take action. I, as with most people, just need a little guidance! Thanks AR, and I would agree, this would be a viable topic to update. Make it a good day and remember, "Bloom Where Planted".

Nov 17, 2014 11:34 PM
Jeff Jensen
The Federal Savings Bank/Lending in 50 states - Greenwich, CT

Wouldn't it be great if they could all be rich agents.  A social media coach would help.

Nov 18, 2014 05:48 AM
Les & Sarah Oswald
Realty One Group - Eastvale, CA
Broker, Realtor and Investor

Great infographic. The stats are pretty powerful...We been shown the way to success, now it take ACTION to reach the goals.

Nov 18, 2014 06:36 AM
Dianne Hicks
Realty ONE Group - Poway, CA

This was good information... well done... but I think it deserves take note for agents just beginning or agents that you have termed "poor agents"... Yes... while the "rich agents" have spent more they now have more to spend... I have been away from it for a while so before I reentered... while I did well enough... inbetween rich and poor... I decided I want to do more than okay because I have a goals in my life I want out of life and so I want to begin with first and foremost... I want to pay cash for a cabin within 2 years which leads me to the first thing they all had in common... They all had a goal...  Their Why and what needs to happen to make that a reality!!! So to make that happen I spent an enormous amount of time studing/analyzing the very sucessful agents to see what they had in common and how it could help me improve... this is in part my conclusion...  The very most important one was of course... Action... doing it... so while they may have nicer tools now to make them more effecient don't let that itimate you... many started with nothing... so no excuses if you don't have the money...  Have the database,,, there are decent free ones out there... working and growing the database is the more important factor... Equally important to having the database is being consistent with the touches from this database often hearing 33 touches... via newsletter, phone calls, appreciation contact and the likes...  Also most of them also incorporated hand written notes into those contacts as well...  Also they Block out a fixed amount of time perhaps averaging 2 hours (the ways varied but they all did it) everyday focusing on lead generation so pick one that suites your abilities and personality best and do it... regardless of whatever else is happening that is keeping their pipeline full... Internet presense AND their response time for return contact... your goal should be under 5 minutes... blog, be there, be found and respond or anther agent will... there are others things and require more detail/explaination but those are main keys every one of them did... The ideas are endless but worthless without action!!!

Jan 23, 2015 09:29 AM
Trisha Desai

The article is very informative
Thanks for sharing your thoughts and insight

Apr 27, 2015 04:12 PM
Brian & Melinda Stitzinger
Berkshire Hathaway Home Services PenFed Realty - Frisco, TX
Our Mission is to Serve You

Thank You !! Great Information and a lot to digest.

Jan 27, 2016 02:37 AM
Inna Ivchenko
Barcode Properties - Encino, CA
Realtor® • GRI • HAFA • PSC Calabasas CA

It would be interesting to see updated inforgraphic for this data. 

Jul 31, 2016 09:06 AM
elbert bell
Idxmatrix - Baltimore, MD
IDXMatrix plugin for real estate professionals.

The article is very informative
Thanks for sharing your thoughts and insight. 

Aug 22, 2017 12:28 AM
Inna Ivchenko
Barcode Properties - Encino, CA
Realtor® • GRI • HAFA • PSC Calabasas CA

I recently read some stats and they say that the average age of a Realtor is 56 y.o. and only 3% are below 30 y.o. 

What is the most interesting: 10% of Realtors control 90% of all listings. 50% of agents do not do any sales. 

Those who get a RE license should always remember that RE is direct sales that means you have to find your customers. 

Sep 30, 2017 11:09 AM
Henry Stok

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May 17, 2019 10:44 PM
Roman Jay Almaza

Honestly for me, it doesn't matter as long as both have the necessary skills for selling properties.

Jul 25, 2021 06:44 PM
Rose Smith
Lakeland Sod Pros - Bellview, FL

This work inspires us. Keep up the good work and we will continue to support your posts.

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Sep 02, 2022 06:58 AM
johnpaull86 johnpaull86

Any form of social media which allows a real estate agent or real estate professional to communicate in a broadcast format which is open on the Internet and use e pos system Gilbert. 

Sep 11, 2022 07:48 AM
Ken Conley
County Guys - Ameliasburgh, ON
Home stager serving the Hastings area

This reminds me of the book Rich Dad, Poor Dad. Thanks for the inspiration. check it out

Nov 28, 2022 07:08 AM
Erich Oliver
WLC Construction - Portland, MI
Home Builder in MI

Is there a latest update for the average rich real estate spends more money in a month, than some poor real estate agents spend on technology this year? Looking forward to the next update!

Feb 28, 2023 10:59 PM
Edward Terry
HomeExpert Handyman of Mobile - Handyman Service - Autaugaville, AL

This is the survey's most pronounced difference. A CRM or lead management system is used by almost twice as many wealthy real estate agents as it is by their less wealthy counterparts. Follow if you want to learn about concrete driveways.


Apr 14, 2023 10:42 PM