This article is part of a larger series on How to Become a Real Estate Agent.
Aside from grit, hard work, and a sprinkle of luck, being a successful real estate agent requires an environment that fosters creativity, a plethora of career opportunities, and healthy competition. The best states to work and live in offer a competitive agent salary, high home values, and moderate agent competition. From the Aloha State to the Beehive State, we evaluated all 50 states based on earning potential, cost of living, agent competition, and local housing market to find the 10 best states for real estate agents in 2023.
To review all of our data sources, jump to the “How We Evaluated the Best States for Real Estate” section.
Mississippi ranks as the best state to be a real estate primarily because of its low cost of living—number one on our list. There is also a low amount of agent competition (4th) and homeownership rates (72.3%, which ranks 13th). These factors make it an ideal location for agents to start and establish a real estate career.
However, the state with the lowest cost of living also has the second-lowest median home value at only $125,500. Surprisingly, despite low home values, Mississippi real estate agents make it into the top 10 states with a median agent salary of $69,269.50 (7th). Although the low home values result in lower commissions from each transaction, the homeownership rates and low competition allow agents to make more transactions.
The second-ranked state on our list is Iowa because of the high homeownership rate (76.8%, ranking second) plus the low cost of living (8th). Although agent competition is ranked 20th, it’s easier to establish and sustain a successful real estate career in Iowa than in most states.
Consistent with the state’s low cost of living, however, the average agent salary in Iowa is lower than almost half of the other states, at about $50,350 (ranked 23rd). The state ranked 42nd on our list for median home value, with a median home value of $153,900. Similar to Mississippi, low home values will inhibit agents from making larger salaries without selling a larger quantity of homes.
3. West Virginia
At third on our list, West Virginia is a great option for real estate agents primarily because of the high percentage of owner-occupied homes and homeownership rate. Both criteria rank in the number one spot with rates of 75.2% and 77.8%, respectively. In addition, agent competition is low, ranking second. This information shows that homebuyers in West Virginia are financially prepared to purchase, and agents will not have to fight for clients.
West Virginia is ranked 50th for home value, with a median of $123,200. This impacts the median agent salary, which has decreased to $48,440 annually. The overall cost of living in the Mountain state is 90.5, ninth in the country. Although agents may not earn as much money in West Virginia as in other states, it is offset by the lower cost of living.
Want to become a real estate agent in West Virginia? Read our articles:
- How to Get Your West Virginia Real Estate License
- 6 Best Online Real Estate Courses in West Virginia
Michigan ranks high on our list of the best states to be a real estate agent because of low agent competition (10th on our list) and a high percentage of owner-occupied homes (73.2%, making it third on our list). The state also boasts a low overall cost of living—13th on our list.
Despite ranking highly for several criteria, the overall median home value in Michigan is low compared to other states at $162,600 (40th). Agent salaries are also lower than in other parts of the country, with annual median salaries around $49,150 (18th on our list). However, the low cost of living makes up for this, allowing Michigan to rank fourth on our list. It’s a great option for new agents who want to keep expenses low while building their businesses.
Vermont offers an excellent environment for real estate agents and is one of the best states to get a real estate license because of a low rate of agent competition—first on our list. The state also boasts a relatively high percentage of owner-occupied homes (72.7% and eighth on our list) and a homeownership rate (73.3%, ranking 10th), so there is a notable opportunity to become a successful buyer or seller agent.
Vermont also ranks slightly above average for median home value (23rd) with homes priced around $230.900. Despite these favorable factors, Vermont has one of the highest costs of living in the United States, ranking 41st on our list for the metric. Agent salary is relatively low, ranking at 20th, with a median salary of $61,400. This combination of characteristics makes the state a great fit for established agents who can afford the high cost of living while continuing to build their business without strong competition and with high home values.
6. South Dakota
South Dakota is ranked number six of the best states for real estate agents, beating out other states because of the low agent competition and agent salary (median of $77,560), both ranking fifth. This proves the Mount Rushmore State provides many lead generation opportunities for real estate agents looking to start or continue their careers.
Homes in South Dakota have a low value, at an average of only $174,600, and in 35th place. In addition, homeownership rates of 69.3% and owner-occupied homes percentage at 69.4% While these rankings are lower compared to other states, 21st overall, they still show that with a moderate cost of living (29th), real estate agents can make more sales because of low competition.
Wyoming ranks in the top 10 because of its agent salary and homeownership ranking (eighth highest). The state boasts an annual median wage of $71,120 (5th), 71.4% of owner-occupied homes, and a 73.8% homeownership rate. These numbers bode well for real estate agents because most Wyoming occupants can afford to purchase homes in the Cowboy State, making it an attractive state to conduct business.
Even though the agent salary is high, competition in Wyoming is tough, ranking 37th, which means agents must use unique marketing and advertising strategies to generate leads. Although Wyoming didn’t perform well for median home value (24th on the list), the cost of living is still better than over half of the states at 21st.
8. New Jersey
The Garden State ranks eighth on our list of best states for real estate agents due to its low agent competition, at number six, and high agent salaries. Agents can expect to make an average of $76,869.50 (ranked third), and they will not have to struggle to generate real estate leads for their business.
However, the higher agent salary is in proportion to the high cost of living index of 115.2 in New Jersey, causing it to rank 40th in the nation. This could also be why the percentage of owner-occupied homes is 64.4%, giving an overall homeownership ranking of 42. While there is still opportunity for real estate businesses in New Jersey, agents should be able to conduct not only sales transactions, but also rentals for those who cannot yet afford to purchase a home.
9. New Hampshire
New Hampshire is a good option to become a real estate agent because of the state’s low agent competition (third on our list) and its high percentage of owner-occupied homes (seventh). The state also has a median home value higher than two-thirds of the states, at $272,300.
However, New Hampshire has a high cost of living compared to other states (37th on our list) and a notably low overall salary (43rd). This can make it a difficult environment for new agents starting off with a limited budget. New agents should consider joining a real estate team that works together to generate leads, conduct transactions, and build relationships to ease into their careers.
Want to become a real estate agent in New Hampshire? Read our articles:
- How to Get Your New Hampshire Real Estate License
- Best New Hampshire Online Real Estate License Schools 2023
Missouri rounds out our list of the top 10 best states for real estate agents. While its rankings are moderate, the cost of living ranked seventh, making it the primary reason for The Show-Me State’s inclusion on this list. In addition, agent competition is relatively low compared throughout the country at 13, which shows that agents will have an easier time gaining loyal clients.
On the other hand, the median home value of $163,600 (39th) and agent salary of $48,590 (23rd) show that agents must conduct more real estate transactions to earn a solid income. A homeownership ranking of 20 is promising next to other states in the top 10 rankings, proving that there is an opportunity for a lucrative real estate business in Missouri.
Five Worst States for Real Estate Agents 2023
The worst states for real estate agents in 2023 generally have low average agent salaries and home values despite the moderate agent competition. While the results are not definitive, the said factors may indicate a weak real estate market, which may not yield significant business growth for new and experienced real estate agents. Here are the five worst states for real estate agents in 2023:
Unfortunately, The Land of Opportunity State is not full of as much opportunity for realtors. Although the cost of living in Arkansas is one of the best rankings at 11th with an index of 90.9, the other evaluation factors like agent competition, salary, median home value, and homeownership remain low.
Competition ranked 37th and salary ranked 44th (median wages of $37,610), which means real estate agents will be fighting for clients, but also not making the income to back up their effort. Low salary is also the result of median home values of $133,600, which is 48th out of the 50 states. While these rankings show that Arkansas may not be among the best places to be a real estate agent, the low cost of living allows Arkansas agents to balance business and personal expenses.
Home prices in Hawaii are the highest across the nation at $636,400, while homeownership is among the lowest at 58.3%, which makes Hawaii the 49th-ranked state for real estate agents. With such high home values, it is very difficult for homeowners to afford to purchase property, leaving the homeownership ranking number 47. The cost of living proves this further by ranking 50th with a cost of living index of 193.3.
In terms of agent competition and salary, Hawaii ranks 35th and 34th, respectively. This means real estate agents are abundant in this area and, therefore, do not make as much profit even with the highest home prices in the country. It will be difficult for agents to live comfortably on a median salary of $46,910, considering Hawaii’s high cost of living. However, an experienced agent with a large client base can fair very well in the Aloha State and may find it is the best state for real estate for them.
Even though Texas is ranked 15th for cost of living, other factors have negatively impacted the real estate opportunities available to agents in The Lone Star State. With owner-occupied home percentages at 62.6% and homeownership rates at 63.4%, Texas ranks 45th for individuals who can feasibly purchase properties.
In addition, median home values are moderately low—costing about $187,200 on average. This figure leaves real estate agents earning an average of $44,920 in 2023, 30th among the 50 states. Also, agent competition ranks 42nd. While there is a possibility for a plentiful real estate career in Texas, which for some might make it the best state for real estate agents, competition among agents and low home values may make it difficult to succeed.
Median home values in Arizona are high compared to many states at $242,000, which is promising for commission numbers. In addition, a homeownership ranking of 28 provides a relatively high percentage of owner-occupied homes (67.6%) throughout the states.
However, an agent competition ranking of 46 leaves Arizona real estate agents scrouging for leads. That, plus the high cost of living (33rd) and moderate agent salary of $46,910 (ranked 37th), new agents in the Grand Canyon state could struggle to make ends meet.
Agent salary and median home values landed Ohio on our list of the worst states to be a real estate agent. A median salary of $36,940 ranks 48th on the list, while the home value, averaging $151,400, ranks 43rd.
These two figures and the lower homeownership rank of 32, make the Buckeye State a challenging location to conduct a lucrative real estate business. However, agent competition (ranking 24th) and a low cost of living (14th) help real estate agents create a productive career in Ohio.
Complete Data & Rankings for Each State
If you’re curious about how your state stacks up against the best states to do real estate, check out our map below. Simply click on your state to see the rankings for each evaluation category.