New York City's Real Estate Brokers Making it in a Crowded Field

When Harris Scher was listening to his instructors in class last year, he took a good look at the jam-packed room filled with 300 students who had the same aspirations as he had — to have a successful career as a licensed real estate salesperson. He speculated about his chances. Scher was about to become one in an already congested field of more than 27,000 brokers and real estate agents operating in Manhattan — according to New York State records — competing for only about 10,000 real estate transactions per year (not including co-op sales).

“I wondered how many people I would run into once the course was over,” says Scher, a 29-year-old native New Yorker who earned his license and has been with Century 21 Kevin B. Brown & Associates for several months. “So far, I haven’t run into many of them.”

Million-Dollar Dreams

Although some pursue a career as a broker because of their passion for real estate, others are lured by the opportunity to close multi-million dollar real estate deals and earn seriously lucrative commissions. Scher did what many up-and-comers do — he turned to the real estate market after dabbling in another career.

“I was in finance, but I had also moved many times and had used brokers in the past,” says Scher. “I enjoyed the process of looking for a house, and realized that this was something I could be doing myself.”  

“When you read these stories about how great the market is and how we’re breaking records in price, it sounds easy,” says Steven Spinola, president of the Real Estate Board of New York (REBNY), the trade organization representing the city’s real estate brokers. “But it’s not an easy business. It’s hard work, and you may get lucky once in while, but you’re working a long time on one particular sale.”


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  • I'm doing research I would like to know how many documented Real Estate Agents work In NYC Alone?
  • Yes, they do. I am more in a supportive role in a major ccmaeroiml real estate firm for a team that sells shopping centers. I have been doing this for 12 years now. I do have my real estate license and all of that, but have not moved up to a sales postion because of the time it takes. At our company it is very similar to a law firm. Like in a law firm when you are an associate you are there until 8 every night and on weekends, you practically pee in your trash can, and you live on fruit roll ups the secretaries throw at you. Then once you make partner, you hand down all of the delegatable work to the associates, and you go to Bermuda for 3 weeks.The bottom line is yes, good money. yes, they work a lot. But by the time you are 40 the worst part of it is over and you should be set if you do it right. Bottom line is it is not a get rich quick career.
  • PLEASE CORRECT: "...he has finally scored his first exclusive — a home with an approximate listing of $410,000. His commission, if the property sells, could be something like $20,000, depending on the commission arrangements that are made." That is not possible. Even if it is a direct sale, which means there is no buyer's broker involved (which is quite unlikely), the full commission of 6% would be $24,600, which the agent will split with his company. Since he is a new agent, his split will be 50% at most. So, the maximum that this agent can get from this sale is $12,300. If there is a buyer's broker, it will be half of that. Please get your facts straight before you put them in print.