Three of the state’s largest real estate brokerage firms are being hit hard by a recession that has made it difficult for people to get mortgages, clobbered home values and forced people into foreclosure.

As firms attempt to position themselves for an eventual market rebound, they are also fighting internal forces, trying to keep their agents from fleeing the profession.

“It’s a very difficult, challenging market,” said Rick Loughlin, president of Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage in Waltham. “I mean I think all the terms are overused, we’re looking for new ones. It’s frustrating. Everyone has to dig back down and deal with basics — the things you learned the first year in real estate.”

According to BBJ research, Coldwell sold the most homes in Massachusetts last year with $8.2 billion in sales, but the office suffered a 23.3 percent decline from 2007 when it sold $10.7 billion in homes.

The number of certified Realtors at Coldwell also declined, to 3,623 in 2008 from 3,339 in 2007. Loughlin said it’s typical for brokers to leave the business in a down market and said it’s the experienced brokers who survive. Coldwell closed eight offices in Massachusetts last year and a total of 15 offices in the four New England states where it operates

Read More: Boston real estate brokerage firms

My thoughts: Sales are down for both Boston and the State. The one good news, at least for me, is that my office sales are up from last year. Thanks to my staff.

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