Real Estate Agent Salary in California

Real Estate Agent Salary in California

by The CE Shop Team

How Much Do Real Estate Agents Make in California?

Limitless earning potential is one of the real estate industry’s best perks, especially for agents based in California. Some of the nation’s most expensive (and exclusive) properties are purchased and sold in California, but even “average” properties command healthy commissions. As a result, the average salary for a real estate pro in the Golden State hovers around $97,243 per year (the national average is $94,721). Of course, many factors determine how much income a real estate agent in California can generate, including but not limited to: 

  • Their years of experience
  • The real estate market/city in which they work 
  • Their niche/specialty 
  • The scope and size of their network
  • How much they invest in marketing 
  • Their brokerage firm
  • Their status as an agent (full-time or part-time) 


Real Estate Agent Income in Different California Cities 

The average real estate agent salary can depend heavily on your location. Larger metropolitan areas generally have more expensive properties, more inventory, a higher cost of living, and see more real estate sales overall. They also usually generate more competition among top real estate agents. With that said, here’s roughly what Sales Agents can expect to make in 10 different California cities as of February 2022:

City 

Average Salary (According to Indeed.com)

Bakersfield

$97,679

Beverly Hills

$114,688

Fresno

$92,100

Los Angeles

$103,160

Sacramento

$98,139

Santa Barbara 

$85,297

San Francisco 

$91,000

San Jose

$88,381

Santa Rosa

$97,420

Stockton

$94,659

Did You Know?

A real estate agent’s take-home pay can vary greatly depending on the brokerage they represent and where they conduct business. For instance, a real estate brokerage firm such as RE/MAX operates on a 95/5 structure, meaning agents keep 95% of their commission and the brokerage gets 5%. Some brokerages like Redfin offer a base salary but less per transaction, and others like Sotheby’s International, which specializes in high-dollar properties, can differ as each earner negotiates their respective commission structure. 

New agents can usually expect to keep less of their commission split but receive more in terms of support, whereas more experienced agents tend to keep more of their commission but use less of the brokerage’s resources.

Commercial vs. Residential Real Estate Agent Salaries in California 

Commercial real estate and residential real estate are akin to baseball and cricket. Both require a similar skill set, but they’re ultimately different games. Not surprisingly, the respective average salaries of these real estate focuses also varies. 

Real Estate Career 

Average Salary in California 

Commercial Real Estate Agent

$98,825

Residential Real Estate Agent 

$97,243

How Does Experience Impact Income as a California Real Estate Agent?

Like most other industries, real estate salaries grow with experience. Though a first year agent can be successful with nothing more than a high school diploma and a real estate license, it often takes years of hard work to nurture and grow a network that produces a steady flow of business.

Years of Experience 

Salary Range 

1 to 2 years

$0 - $85,836

3 to 5 years

$85,837 - $95,000

6 to 9 years

$95,001 - $109,515

10+ years 

$109,515+ 

How Do Taxes Impact Real Estate Agent’s Income in California?

The state of California has one of the highest income tax rates in the country, but that shouldn’t deter agents. California’s real estate industry also offers one of the nation’s best opportunities with some of the highest sales prices. In fact, California possesses the nation’s largest economy — about twice the size of Russia’s — and is one of a few states to have properties with asking prices over $100M. Think of taxes as your ante to play in the country’s most lucrative real estate market, only you pay if you win. 

It should also be noted that taxes can be inherently complex and errors can lead to unexpected payments. For this reason, we always recommend consulting with a licensed tax professional who has experience working with REALTORS® or other self-employed contractors as soon as you start. As a general rule, real estate professionals, who are considered independent contractors, should set aside 30% of their gross income for taxes (both state and federal). 

Still, there are a few things that every real estate professional should know about taxes. The first is how they’re structured. California employs a progressive tax rate, meaning agents pay the percentage corresponding to their current income until they reach the next tax bracket, then they owe the corresponding percentage of income earned in that bracket alone. Here are California’s tax brackets for an individual filing as single in 2022 according to Nerdwallet.com:

Tax Rate:

Tax Income Bracket:

Taxes Owed:

1%

$0 to $9,325

1% of taxable income

2%

$9,326 to $22,107

$93.25 plus 2% of income over $9,325

4%

$22,108 to $34,892

$348.89 plus 4% of income over $22,107

6%

$34,893 to $48,435

$860.29 plus 6% of income over $34,892

8%

$48,436 to $61,214

$1,672.87 plus 8% of income over $48,435

9.3%

$61,215 to $312,686

$2,695.19 plus 9.3% of income over $61,214

10.3%

$312,687 to $375,221

$26,082.09 plus 10.3% of income over $312,686

11.3%

$375,222 to $625,369

$32,523.20 plus 11.3% of income over $375,221

12.3%

$625,370 or more

$60,789.92 plus 12.3% of income over $625,369

 

For example, if Agent X is an average real estate agent who works full-time and makes a total of $99,526 over the course of the year, they will pay:

  • 1% of their income on the first $9,325 = $93.25
  • 2% of their income from $9,325 to $22,107 = $348.89
  • 4% of their income from $22,108 to $34,892 = $860.29
  • 6% of their income from $34,893 to $48,435 = $1,672.87
  • 8% of their income from $48,436 to $61,214 = $2,695.19
  • 9.3% of their income from $61,215 to $99,526 = $3,562.92


That’s a total of $9,233.41 or an effective state income tax rate of 9.3% for a single taxpayer filing as an individual (generally the highest tax burden). For married or joint filers, please visit the State of California Franchise Tax Board site and extrapolate your data using those tables. 

Of course, that figure doesn’t include other factors such as those with dependents, those filing jointly, the myriad of write-offs that exist, tax credits (e.g., the EV tax credit), personal taxes like sales tax on goods or property taxes, or federal taxes (which is 15.3% of income for self-employed individuals, but there’s way more to unpack there). 

Regardless, this is merely a guide to estimate the California income burden you can expect as a new real estate agent. As always, we recommend contacting a licensed tax professional as soon as you begin your real estate career and always maintain detailed records of all of your business-related expenditures. 

We wish you all the best on your journey to become California’s top real estate agent!