How much does a Commercial Real Estate Agent make in the United States? The average Commercial Real Estate Agent salary in the United States is $103,160 as of , but the salary range typically falls between $86,180 and $115,107. Salary ranges can vary widely depending on many important factors, including education, certifications, additional skills, the number of years you have spent in your profession. With more online, real-time compensation data than any other website, Salary.com helps you determine your exact pay target.
There’s a reason the typical commercial real estate agent salary is six figures. The learning curve to become a commercial agent is six months to six years and comes with an expectation of increased education, said Thomas Riley, a New Hampshire commercial agent and treasurer of the National Association of Realtors (NAR).
“The training is intense,” Riley said. Commercial agents are expected to know about many more aspects of real estate than residential agents and may specialize in several areas, such as office, retail, and industrial development, he said.
More income means higher demands for education and training
With the higher demands for education and training, commercial real estate agents can expect to earn almost twice what residential agents earn. Commercial agents had an average salary of $165,940 last year, according to the 2022-2023 Real Estate Income Guide.
Although Riley has 35 years of experience, most commercial real estate agents have been in business for 24 years and in commercial real estate for 19 years.
Shan Zaidi, a commercial broker in Texas, has been in the business for six years, at it full-time for the past three. Working part-time is rare among commercial agents. The majority of NAR surveyed worked at least 40 hours a week. Agents who worked less than 20 hours reported a median annual income of $21,600 and those who worked 60 hours or more, $163,200. Agents with six to 15 years of experience tend to work longer hours than those with less than two years of experience and those with 26 years or more.
Zaidi said his background in investments, acquisitions, management consulting, and as an analyst helps him as a commercial broker, he said. Finance and marketing degrees are also valuable because the job requires an understanding of underwriting, lending, tax ramifications, and the ability to communicate effectively with the buyer and seller. Sixty-eight percent of commercial agents have a bachelor’s degree or higher.
Riley recommended that commercial agents start in the residential real estate field and learn sales, business, people, and communication skills.
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It pays to specialize
In our recent salary survey, we discovered that specialization pays off. As people enter the real estate profession, they usually pick an area or two to grow their expertise. This chart shows common specialties, as well as their associated earnings—including that of commercial agents.
With the commercial real estate agent salary come fewer but bigger deals
Unlike residential real estate agents, who may run multiple listings and show properties every weekend, commercial agents tend to focus on a few deals for several months, Zaidi said. Commercial real estate deals tend to be larger than residential deals and take longer to close. One or two multi-million-dollar commercial deals every year or so can provide enough income for several years, he said.
Riley says those who work with a real estate brokerage may receive straight commission or a stipend toward commission to start. Those who work in-house for large enterprises may be given a commercial real estate agent salary and commission, he said.
The majority of commercial real estate professionals are male and earn more, $129,200, than females, $81,300. Riley said he expects the dichotomy to change as more women enter the commercial real estate field.
Most members also earned some personal income from commercial real estate investments, NAR reported.
Some of the challenges of the commercial real estate job today include pricing issues and fluctuating interest rates. The value of the property drops as interest rates rise, which can cause deals to fall through, Zaidi said.
Still, Riley says it’s a great industry and can be very lucrative. “Knowledge is the key.”
Career Opportunities in Commercial Real Estate
Commercial real estate brokers and agents work with buyers and sellers to facilitate commercial real estate sales. To accomplish this, they must be proficient in researching and obtaining documents pertaining to leasing histories, profit and loss margins, taxes, surveys, market projections, and any other analysis necessary to complete the sale.
These brokers and agents may be required to research the cost of renovations, negotiate with financial institutions, and coordinate property inspections. A successful transaction may require the real estate professional to provide market demographics and environmental studies and cost analysis.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average wage for brokers was $59,720, and $48,930 was the average commercial real estate agent salary as of May 2019. These numbers include residential as well as commercial brokers and agents. Most sources cite $85,000 as a more accurate annual wage for commercial real estate professionals.
Many commercial real estate brokers make well over $100,000 a year (I personally know several brokers who consistently earn six-figure incomes and also those who earn seven-figure incomes consistently). According to a 2016 survey conducted by the National Association of Realtors, the average number of annual transactions was seven, and the average size of the transactions was $2,000,000.
Typical Commission Structure for Commercial Real Estate Brokers and Agents
According to the National Association of Real Estate Advisors, for transactions under $5,000,000 the typical commercial real estate broker commission is six percent. Anything over $5,000,000 is typically structured downward until it reaches four percent. The listing and selling brokers divide the commission in half.
The broker receives a percentage of the commission based on a contractual agreement with the brokerage. Less experienced brokers typically receive fifty to sixty percent of the commission. Senior brokers can receive as much as seventy to eighty percent of the total commission.
Many brokerages require brokers to pay annual desk fees that can be as high as $50,000. The actual amount depends on how much the broker produces. Desk fees can be used to offset brokerage expenses or used by the broker to negotiate a higher percentage of the commission.
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Appraisers assess the value of real estate property. Commercial appraisers analyze properties like office complexes, malls and other retail establishments, industrial properties, hotels, and unimproved commercial land. To find value they must be able to collect all the necessary documentation, analyze financial statements and leasing histories, and compare them to the current market. Appraisers may be independent contractors or work with brokerages, financial institutions, or government agencies.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average wage for real estate appraisers was $57,010 as of May 2019 (this wage reflects both residential and commercial real estate appraisers). However, many commercial appraisers make well over $100,000 a year. This area of real estate is expected to grow by seven percent through 2028, which is a higher percentage than average for any other occupation.
Commercial real estate developers oversee the purchase and development of commercial properties. They must be proficient in determining which markets have the potential to increase in value or are underserved when it comes to certain types of commercial development. They obtain the information by networking with industry professionals and analyzing growth potential, demographics, taxes, and even traffic patterns.
This is one of the most profitable areas of real estate and one of the riskiest. Most commercial real estate developers make between $49,000 and $205,000 annually, but the earnings potential can be upwards of a $1,000,000 in profits for the most successful (I personally know several developers who have made significantly higher than a million dollars in a year).
4. Property Manager
Property managers oversee the day to day operations of properties such as shopping malls, office buildings, hotels, and other types of commercial properties that generate revenue. They are required to lease space, collect rent, hire contractors to maintain the property, meet with clients, and network through professional associations.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average annual salary for a property manager was $58,760 as of May 2019. This number reflects both residential and commercial property managers. Other sources report an average salary for commercial property managers of $99,454. This area of real estate is growing at a rate of seven percent which is higher than average for other occupations.
5. Asset Manager
Asset managers handle commercial properties on behalf of their clients. It’s the job of an asset manager to decide what properties will most successfully grow their client’s portfolios. To do this they must be able to read the market, predict (based on careful analysis) trends, and keep up with the latest news in the areas of financing, economy, and politics. They are responsible for making sure investments don’t depreciate and that risk exposure is mitigated.
The average commercial real estate asset manager salary is $77,336 annually with the high end being $138,000. These figures reflect information found in job advertisements for the past 36 months and salary estimates from 25,803 employees.
6. Acquisitions Professional
Acquisitions managers make purchase decisions for their companies. They negotiate with brokers and sellers in making those purchases, including sale prices and the terms of the contracts. Acquisition managers must have strong analytical, negotiating, and financial skills. These individuals also create long term property purchase strategies.
The average annual salary for a mergers and acquisitions manager according to a survey of 264 employees and job advertisements over the past 36 months is $104,384.
Real estate consultants provide expertise to their clients. The expertise may in the areas of portfolio strategies, property management, tax advice, and corporate property acquisition strategies. These individuals are employed by outside firms to advise third parties.
The average commercial real estate consultant salary is $71,953. Consultants in the top 10% make in excess of $184,000.
8. Corporate Real Estate Manager
Large corporations often own real estate that must be purchased, managed, and in some cases disposed of. These corporations depend on professional real estate managers to do the job for them. Real estate managers may be required to purchase property for business expansion, investment purposes, and to divest properties that become unprofitable or no longer fit the long term corporate strategy.
Senior corporate real estate managers make an average salary of $110,000 per year. The national average is $85,811.
9. Dispositions Analyst
Individuals and corporations that have significant real estate assets in their portfolios often employ disposition analysts to create strategies for divesting particular properties. It is common for these individuals and corporations to continuously recycle capital through divestiture and acquisition.
Annual salaries for commercial real estate disposition analysts run around $69,035. Senior analysts can expect to make over $100,000.
10. Loan Servicer
Loan servicers process loan payments, manage escrow accounts, and track principle and interest. Under certain circumstances they may initiate foreclosure proceedings. Loan servicers are not necessarily mortgage lenders. Mortgage lenders loan borrowers the money to purchase property. Loan servicers manage the loans.
Loan servicing is not one of the highest paying real estate jobs. The average annual salary for a loan servicer specialist is $38,415.
11. Portfolio Manager
Portfolio managers are researchers who make investment decisions for their clients. They must meet with analysts, real estate researchers, and stay abreast of the financial market and corporate objectives in order to successfully buy and sell investments in a changing market.
The average annual salary for a commercial real estate portfolio manager will range from $53,000 to $140,000 according to an individual reporting survey dated July 14, 2020.
12. Government Real Estate Acquisitions Specialist
The United States government owns millions of real estate parcels throughout the country. It regularly purchases, divests, and renews leases on these properties and uses real estate professionals to handle the transactions. Acquisitions specialists can expect to make anywhere from $66,000 to $104,000 annually. The U.S. Army is the Number Two acquisitions specialist employer in the country.
13. Non-profit Real Estate Manager
Many non-profit organizations have real estate holdings that must be managed. There are even non-profits that are created specifically to invest in real estate.
Salaries can run from $53,613 for a residence manager to $102,926 for a development director.