The subject of rising fuel prices was fresh in Chase Duran’s mind before the weekend as he walked away from a gas pump.
“It’s definitely impacting some agents, especially those who are just starting out and don’t have a lot of income yet,” said Duran, an agent based in an office of Ebby Halliday in Frisco.
For real estate agents who are constantly on the road, showing homes and meeting clients, the costs can weigh heavily. According to the American Automobile Association (AAA), the national average cost of a gallon of gasoline is approaching $5 per gallon in North Texas.
The increase is forcing agents to reconsider everything from homes to show and how often, to daily errands and other costs of doing business.
A survey of members of the National Association of Realtors found that agents drove 3.6 billion miles in 2011, an average of about 3,300 miles per year for professional driving.
Duran groups its customers to catch as many as possible in one trip. With customers in Prosper, Uptown, Dallas and other cities, he refuels once a week or every two weeks.
“It didn’t change the way I do things,” he said. “Since we are self-employed, we kind of have to strategize. “If I have clients in Fort Worth, I’ll show them homes in one day, then I’ll go home, pick up and show Dallas another day.”
Duran said agents needed to find second jobs or leave the real estate business.
But it’s also customers who face challenges with higher fuel costs, he said.
“Because of COVID, not everyone rides with the agent — they follow the realtor to another house,” Duran said. “They also have to spend.”
Seth Fowler, an agent for Williams Trew Real Estate in Fort Worth, covers a lot of ground. During the week he did business in Granbury, Decatur and Mansfield.
In May 2022, he spent $485 and averaged $60.66 per fill. In May 2021, he spent $250 and averaged $35.78.
“I fill up once a week at about $70 per person, and that’s about 350 miles,” he said. “[You] do whatever it takes – [it’s] not like I can’t show the houses.
Andrea Stone, an agent at eXp Realty in North Texas, said she didn’t change anything because of gas prices.
“I changed my personal life, but my professional life didn’t change,” she said. “It really depends on the number of buyers versus sellers.”
Some weeks, it shows houses. Some weeks she does paperwork.
She said a change in brokerage firms helped her attend meetings and training virtually, which was a change from her previous job. Now his interaction is with an avatar doing business on a virtual beach.
“I don’t have any of that to get to the office,” she said.
Stone remains hopeful that reimbursing mileage through her taxes will reduce some of the fuel costs.
“I hope they give us more write-offs on our taxes,” she said.
AAA data revealed that 59% of Americans said they would make lifestyle changes once gas prices hit $4 a gallon. At $5 a gallon, 75% said they would make changes.
Pogir Pogir, global property adviser for Briggs Freeman Sotheby’s, said it was about control. It can’t influence gasoline prices and that builds it into the cost of doing business.
“You have to spend money to make money,” Pogir said. “I drive wherever I need to go. I care more about meeting people.