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2021 Was a Good Year for Most CRE Brokers, and 2022 Looks Even Better

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69% of commercial real estate (CRE) brokers say they made more money in 2021 than 2020, according to the latest Apto National Broker Buzz Poll. This represents a dramatic turnaround from 2020, when the historic COVID-19 pandemic shut down much of the economy for at least part of the year, and most brokers made less money.

Here are the results from Apto’s survey, which was conducted between December 6 and December 20, 2021. (Both customers and non-customers were polled.)

Brokers’ 2021 income

  • – 69% of brokers made more money than in 2020, up from 34% who reported higher year-over-year income in last year’s survey
  • – 19% of brokers made less money than in 2020, down from 52% who reported lower year-over-year income in last year’s survey
  • – 11% of brokers made the same money as 2020, virtually unchanged from last year
  • – 1% say they won’t know their 2020 income until bonuses are determined in early 2022

Brokers’ 2021 transaction volume

  • – 66% of brokers completed more transactions than in 2020
  • – 24% of brokers completed fewer transactions than in 2020
  • – 10% of brokers completed the same number of transactions as in 2020

Brokers’ 2022 income projection

  • – 60% of brokers predict they will make more money in 2022
  • – 25% of brokers predict they will make less money in 2022
  • – 15% of brokers predict they will make the same money in 2022

Most CRE brokers like being brokers and are in it for life. Asked if they expect to be in the real estate business for the rest of their careers, 91% of brokers said yes. This number is down very slightly from last year’s survey, when the response was 95%.

Additionally, 67% of survey respondents expect there will be fewer or the same number of CRE brokers 10 years from now as there are today. Conversely, 33% said there will be more brokers than there are now, up from 21% who said so in 2020. That’s a 12% shift in sentiment from last year, indicating some brokers are seeing the profession’s ranks growing again.

Brokers back in the office

Now that the holidays are coming to an end, 75% of brokers who work in an office with other people expect to be back in the office with them this month. This is up from about 60% who were in the office around Labor Day. Only 25% said they don’t expect to be in the office with coworkers this month.

Commenting on the poll results, Tanner McGraw, a former CRE broker and the founder of Apto, said, “The poll results reflect the overall economy’s strength this past year, which translated to most brokers making more money, especially those focused on industrial or multifamily real estate. But the tide is also turning for retail real estate and high-quality office. As we know, brokers can do well whether owners and investors are buying or selling, or whether tenants are adding or shedding space. It’s movement that matters, and we saw considerable business activity in the economy in 2021.”

“It’s also nice to see brokers back in the office leading the way as real estate consumers. There’s incredible value having teams together in shared space, plus we know drinking together after work is much more fun than virtual drinking! The new Coronavirus variant is posing a last-minute threat to office returns, but the desire and intent to be in the office is very apparent based on brokers’ response to our survey.”