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How the pandemic has been a pay day for some lucky CRE brokers

In a surprise finding, nearly one third of the nation’s commercial real estate brokers said they made more money last year than the year before.

Despite the worst pandemic in living history, 34 percent came out ahead financially, according to the latest Apto National Broker Buzz Poll, which was conducted in December by commercial real estate broker software company Apto.

 “It’s expected in our industry that brokers can do well in good times and in bad, whether investors are buying or selling or adding or shedding space,” said Tanner McGraw, himself a former CRE broker and the founder of Apto.


“But what made this year so remarkable — aside from the obvious public health crisis — was the near total shut-down of the national economy in many markets for months at a time. In this environment it’s surprising in some ways that anyone made any money. That said, brokers perform a necessary function, dare I call it essential, and the fact is much business got done.”

Apto’s 2020 brokers’  income survey found:

*  34% of brokers made more money than in 2019, down from 58% who reported higher year-over-year income in the last survey

*  52% of brokers made less money than in 2019, up from 26% who reported lower year-over-year income in the last survey

 *  13% of brokers made the same money as 2019, virtually unchanged from last year

 * 1% say they won’t know their 2020 income until bonuses are determined in early 2021

Brokers’ 2020 transaction volume:

* 29% of brokers completed more transactions than in 2019

* 57% of brokers completed fewer transactions than in 2019

* 14% of brokers completed the same number of transactions as in 2019

Brokers’ 2021 income projection:

* 75% of brokers predict they will make more money in 2021

* 11% of brokers predict they will make less money in 2021

* 14% of brokers predict they will make the same money in 2021

Nearly 80 percent of the survey respondents expect there will be fewer or the same number of CRE brokers 10 years from now as there are today. This number is virtually unchanged from last year’s survey.

Their biggest gripe about the pandemic?  They missed their colleagues.  The survey found the biggest impacts of COVID-19 pandemic on their work:

* 63% of brokers miss seeing their colleagues in person because of the pandemic

* 57% of brokers have become more reliant on CRE technology as a result of the pandemic

* 42% of brokers have become more comfortable using CRE technology during the pandemic

* 34% of brokers realize they don’t need to see their colleagues as often as before

* 31% of brokers work harder to collaborate with their team members because people aren’t in the same places as before the pandemic

* 23% of brokers work less as a team and more independently because of the pandemic

* 7% of brokers have come to hate technology through the pandemic

Commented McGraw, “It’s a testament to the resilience, fortitude and technological aptitude of brokers that they were able to adjust to the situation, carry on and in many cases succeed nicely despite the pandemic. I’m hopeful as are the brokers surveyed that we’ve hit the bottom economically and that 2021 will be a better year for everyone.”

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