The number of real estate agents in Texas is falling

Brokers who made a sale in the past month plunged by 52% in Austin

Texas real estate agents quitting
(Illustration by The Real Deal; Getty)

First, home sales dropped, then housing starts fell, and now the number of active Texas real estate agents is shrinking as well.

Aggregate trend data collected by AgentStory shows a dramatic dropoff in the number of active agents — those who have sold at least one house in the last calendar month — in the Lone Star State, according to the Dallas Business Journal.

The red-hot market of Austin most affected. Between August and September, the number of active agents in the capital city fell from 810 to 389 — a plunge of nearly 52 percent.

In Dallas, the drop was less dramatic, falling 20 percent over the same period, from 947 to 756. Both of those cities — not their metro areas — had well over 1,000 active agents each between March and May before the numbers began a steady decline.

In Houston, the state’s biggest city, the active agent count dropped by just 16 percent from 2,003 in August to 1,674 in September. Houston peaked at 2,450 active agents back in April.

“The rate of deceleration in Texas is profound,” AgentStory CEO Jon Cardella told the Dallas Business Journal, which commissioned the study. “Volume is falling through the floor. Volume is going down, as you’d expect, because of the fact that rates are so high right now relative to the last few years.”

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Last year, surging housing markets — combined with the so-called Great Resignation — drew scores of new agents to the real estate business. The National Association of Realtors reported that the U.S. had more real estate agents in 2021 than ever before. NAR saw its membership swell during those salad days, going from 1.48 million at year-end 2020 to 1.56 million at the end of 2021.

Cardella saidthat the new year could bring an even more significant drop, since that’s when many agents have to pony up the dues for their various realtor associations.

“When annual dues come up next year, maybe you’ll see people start to drop out,” he said. “They’ll say, ‘I don’t want to pay the thousands of dollars to stay in.’”

Still, real estate brokers are by nature optimistic, and Cardella said it will take more than a few months of slumping sales to drive a systemic exodus — citing the “nuclear winter” following the 2008 housing crisis.

“But it takes at least a year for there to be a purge. You need a nuclear winter basically like we had after 2008 or something. Most folks are saying this is going to be 12 to 18 months, so obviously these folks are going to hang around and wait for it.”

— Maddy Sperling