There are more agents than homes for sale

Barriers to entry low, barriers to success high for aspiring brokers

(iStock/Illustration by Alexis Manrodt for The Real Deal)
(iStock/Illustration by Alexis Manrodt for The Real Deal)

For-sale home inventory is shrinking in the hot housing market, but the number of residential real estate agents is rising.

Just 1.04 million homes were on the market at the end of January, down by 26 percent from a year ago. The figure is the lowest on record since 1982, the Wall Street Journal reported, citing the National Association of Realtors. In the same month, the NAR had 1.45 million members, up 4.8 percent.

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Michael Mitchell is among the rookies who recently got a real estate license to enter the trade. The Boston resident, a 30-year veteran of the restaurant industry, thought his customer-service skills would be helpful as an agent, but he has yet to land a single deal. The pandemic’s limiting of in-person interactions has not helped.

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“I’ve learned some aspects of the business, but it’s hard to connect with people…that you’ve never met,” he told the Journal.

According to NAR, which represents the majority of active residential real estate agents and brokers in the U.S., the number of agents goes up and down with the housing market. In October 2006, shortly before the housing bubble burst, NAR membership reached 1.37 million. The number plunged to around 960,000 in March 2012 but has been increasing ever since.

Nick Bailey, chief customer officer at Re/Max Holdings, told the Journal that a spike in number is partly because entry into the industry is relatively easy.

“But the barriers to success are very high,” he said.

[WSJ] — Akiko Matsuda