by Jeff Hornberger, Director, Global Alliances, National Association of REALTORS®
This question comes up frequently in our line of work. In the United States, the answer is simple: we know there are about 2 million people holding real estate licenses, and about 1 million of them belong to NAR.
But how many real estate professionals are there worldwide?
The numbers are likely 4 to 6 million professionals worldwide, but no official data on this exists, nor is it easily attainable. Why? Many countries do not have real estate license laws, so since the profession is so unregulated internationally, getting any true data is difficult. But what do we know?
Canada has about 100,000 real estate professionals, where the market is organized similar to the United States.
In Brazil there are 300,000 licensed real estate professionals, we know this because a group called COFECI-CRECI regulates the profession at a federal level. In the rest of Latin America, regulation is uneven. Panama, Bahamas, and Argentina have licensing, Mexico is trying to get licensing at state levels with some success, and in Costa Rica and much of Central America there is no licensing.
In Europe there are well over 250,000 real estate professionals, we know this because European real estate bodies called CEPI and CEI represent several national organizations and their affiliated professionals. But they by no means cover each active practitioner, so it would be fair to say the number of real estate professionals could be double that amount.
In countries like India and China there are likely over a million real estate “professionals” in each country, although the profession is not regulated at all or is uneven at best. India is highly unregulated and while China has a registry system, we just don’t know how many professionals are represented. Africa? By and large the region is unregulated as well, with a few exceptions.
Countries like Japan, Philippines, and Australia do have license laws. Countries like Mexico are working on licensing, and countries like Spain and Poland have “de-regulated” and ended license laws. Dubai and Singapore have very strict license laws, in Singapore you can in fact be jailed for not carrying proper credentials when showing property !
So, bottom line is there is no way of knowing how many “real” real estate professionals there are worldwide but here is what we DO know..
There is nothing in the world like NAR! Few countries have such a sophisticated real estate market with its professionals so well organized under one united and inclusive trade association.
Outside of Canada and the Netherlands, MLS systems do not exist as we know it.
Thanks to globalization and technology, real estate professionalism is improving worldwide. Through NAR’s global partnerships, we share global best practices and lend technical assistance (when asked) to share our “model”. Also, franchises such as Century 21 and RE/MAX have thriving global operations and their presence and expansion in countries also works to standardize real estate best practices on a global level.
While real estate professionalism is uneven globally, most countries do have real estate associations with codes of ethics comparable to that of NAR. NAR works with over 80 of these groups in more than 60 countries worldwide. We highly recommend working with someone from these groups when conducting an overseas transaction. You can search these partnerships on http://www.realtor.org/global/global-alliances.
Additionally, there are close to 5,000 international members of NAR. In order to join the National Association of REALTORS® as a real estate professional from outside of the U.S., practitioners must belong to one of NAR’s partner associations, thereby subscribing to a code of ethics. You can search for International REALTORS® in the member directory, located at realtor.org/findarealtor.
Since communication can at times be challenging, we have a network of U.S.-based member volunteers called “Presidents Liaisons” who, as a member service, are here to assist you with questions about a country and to make introductions.
As you develop global opportunities, use the global NAR network to ensure that you are doing business with real estate professionals who abide by a similar code of ethics to the one we follow in the United States. If you have questions or need additional assistance, NAR staff is always willing to assist! Just email us at email@example.com.