Houston’s active agents pool shrinks 10% amid high rates

800 agents fail to ink a deal year-over-year.

Houston skyline, shrinking real estate agent
(Getty; Illustration by The Real Deal)

Houston’s real estate market showed resilience in Q4 2022, but it saw a drop in active agents.

The number of agents closing deals in the Houston market dropped almost 10 percent in Q4 2022 year-over-year, according to data compiled by AgentStory, a company that tracks real estate markers. There were almost 8,200 active agents in Q4 2021, compared to a pool of just under 7,400 active agents in Q4 2022.

The city’s status as an attractive destination for transplants, and its ability to maintain steady growth despite rising mortgage rates, set it apart from other markets when it came to the dip in active agents, said Jonathan Cardella, co-founder and CEO of AgentStory.

“It’s resilient, and it stands pretty well in comparison to other markets,” he said. “It’s almost like [Houston is] immune to the forces we saw bring so many other markets down. Especially when you compare it to other cities in Texas, like Dallas and Austin.”

Average days on the market in 2022 were down compared to 2021, decreasing 14 percent in last year, from 32 days in 2021 to fewer than 28 in 2022.

Average home sales saw a 7 percent increase year-over-year, from $384,000 to $408,000.

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Factors contributing to Houston’s strength in the housing market include a resilient economy, low supply and pent-up demand, Cardella said. The city was ranked No. 14 among real estate markets across the U.S. and Canada, according to a recent study by the Urban Land Institute. The same study also found that Houston boasted the eighth-highest homebuilding prospects for 2023. The Houston market is already likely to bounce back, with data from January showing positive signs, according to AgentStory.

“The market is acting more normal. Ultimately, I think what’s going on everywhere is a function of higher rates,” Cardella said. “But Houston is the outlier.”

In cities where the housing market is grinding through a slowdown, the agent pool is shrinking more dramatically. In Chicago, for example, the number of active agents was down by 24 percent in the fourth quarter.

An active real estate agent is defined by AgentStory as someone who participated in the closing of a residential transaction in a given quarter. Whether they were the sole listing agent or a co-lister with another agent, AgentStory counts the agent as active in the quarter. Data compiled by AgentStory also consider seasonal changes. The number of deals typically rises in the second and third quarters, when agents are most active and the market is at its peak.