The best profession in the San Francisco Bay Area may not be what you think


We often talk about tech as the most lucrative gig in the Bay Area, but real estate agents might give developers and project managers a run for their money.

The reasons for this should be obvious to anyone who lives in the Bay Area. Housing is expensive — the median home price reached a record high of $820,000 in March — and the housing stock is low. Seven-figure houses sell like hotcakes in a land where cash offers and overbids are commonplace.

To confirm what we already know, WalletHub created a new ranking of the best places to be a real estate agent. No surprises here: Bay Area cities claimed the top spots.

Standard real estate agent salaries are nothing to write home about; the average real estate agent wage in San Francisco is $74,460, according to WalletHub, but that’s not including commission. Experts estimate the typical real estate agent takes just under a 6 percent cut on sales, and San Franciscan real estate agents sell an average of 60 homes a year. You do the math.

WalletHub looked at 170 U.S. cities and evaluated each on the health of the real estate environment. While San Francisco ranked in the top overall spot, thanks to the highest median price, it tied with both San Jose and Seattle for fewest days on the market.

Four Bay Area cities made the top five, but one Pacific Northwestern outpost wedged its way to the No. 2 spot. That would be Seattle, of course, the headquarters of Amazon and a burgeoning tech capital. The coastal city’s housing market shattered records of its own in March, with the median home price hitting $777,000.

Even Santa Rosa, a city on the northern outskirts of the Bay Area, made the top 10, ranking seventh overall. The revelation provides support for a recent regional trend: People are pushing farther and farther away from San Francisco and the heart of Silicon Valley to more inland and suburban areas.

The health of the market has been on a lot of people’s minds, especially those who remember well the collapse that triggered the Great Recession. But all signs — continued population growth, shortage of available housing, growing interest rates and the continued rise in housing values — indicate the market will keep up as it has, at least for the foreseeable future.

Methodology here.

Daniel Demay, a SeattlePI staff writer, contributed to this report.

Michelle Robertson is an SFGATE staff writer. Email her at or find her on Twitter at @mrobertsonsf.

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