It stands to reason that if real estate professionals believe homeownership is a good idea, then they would practice what they preach and own their own homes instead of renting. But do they? Trulia’s chief economist, Jed Kolko, has crunched the numbers from Census data between 2007 and 2012, and it turns out, the answer is “yes.”
Kolko discovered that 84.5 percent of real estate agents owned their own homes during the 2007-2012 period. By comparison, the homeownership rate for people in other professions and in the same age and income demographic as the agent population observed was 80 percent. The national average for homeownership across all ages, incomes, and occupations stood at 70.1 percent over the time period studied.
Furthermore, homeownership rates were higher than presumed for other real-estate-related occupations, such as appraisers, construction managers, and architects—all of which claimed a rate at least two percentage points higher than expected based on their demographics, income, and
location, according to Kolko’s assessment. Real estate appraisers and assessors actually beat the agents in terms of homeownership, with a score of 87.9 percent.
Why is homeownership higher among real estate pros? Kolko suggests two possible reasons.
First, real estate professionals probably believe in the value of homeownership more than others do, and they apply that belief to themselves. And second, real estate professionals have the advantage of knowing the ins and outs of their local markets, which makes buying and selling easier (or more profitable) for them than for people in other occupations.
Trulia’s study also revealed a few other surprises regarding homeownership percentages among other occupations. For instance, police officers and firefighters are much more likely to own homes than expected, partly because of help from credit unions and programs like Homes for Heroes.
Homeownership is also higher than expected for hairdressers, hairstylists, cosmetologists, and miscellaneous personal appearance workers. Many of them see customers at home, which might be easier for those who own rather than rent.
On the other hand, the study also uncovered certain occupations where practitioners are less likely to own a home than one would expect considering their demographics, income, and location.
It turns out that chefs, writers, and software developers are below the curve in terms of homeownership. Oddly, economists were found to be almost two percentage points less likely to own a home than expected.