Despite a decelerating housing market, the National Association of Realtors hit its highest membership count ever in 2022, edging ever closer to 1.6 million and surpassing its previous record in 2021.
However, as few as 10 percent of them will last long enough to make a full-time living selling homes.
“At a time when there’s a worker shortage everywhere it seems, there’s almost a surplus of people coming to real estate,” said Lawrence Yun, the chief economist for the Realtors’ association. “What’s amazing is we keep hitting new high after new high.”
Where Are People Getting Real Estate Licenses?
A record number of real estate licenses were issued between Jan. 2021 and Jan. 2022, according to the National Association of Realtors.
Massachusetts increase in real estate licenses was only 0.8% from 25,738 in 2021 to 25,949 in 2022.
And many more will likely join their ranks this year. According to Google search trends, the top job-related search between January 2021 and January 2022 was “how to become a real estate agent.”
Historically, the number of agents tends to grow in boom markets. In 2005 and 2006 — the frenzied years leading up to the market collapse in 2007 — more than 250,000 people became agents. In 2008, after the market crashed, the ranks of real estate agents declined by more than 10 percent, according to data from the Realtors’ association.
But, unlike during previous booms, the number of homes for sale today is at a record low. In December, there were 910,000 homes on the market, down 14 percent from a year prior. That same month, the association said its membership hit a record high of more than 1.5 million.
Real estate also is appealing in part because of its relatively low barrier to entry. Training typically takes two or three months and costs just a couple hundred dollars, though brokerage and multiple listing service fees can cost a few thousand dollars more.
But making a real living doing it is harder. Experts, estimates that as few as one in 10 agents survive long enough to make a full-time living selling homes.