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2010-05-20 21:26:04

Housing Crisis Takes Toll on Agents

Hard times have come to real estate agents as well as to their customers.  With fewer houses to sell and commissions shrinking due to lower prices, more and more agents are looking for work in other fields or settling for less money.
The number of active real estate licensees in the U.S. fell 7.5 percent last year from 2.0 million in 2008. The number of licensees was 750,000 in 2009, down 14.8 percent from 880,000 in 2008.
According to a new report from the National Association of Realtors, the median income of Realtors fell 17 percent in the past two years, to an average of $35,700 last year.  Brokers earned a median of $49,100 in 2009, while sales agents earned $26,600.
Seventy-three percent receive no employment benefits.  Only 6 percent receive employer-sponsored health insurance.  Yet 60 percent work at least 40 hours per week and 30 percent work 20 to 39 hours per week.
Over the long term, however, the picture for real estate professionals brightens.  According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment of real estate brokers and sales agents is expected to grow 14 percent during the 2008-18 decade, faster than average for all occupations. A growing population, particularly young adults who will be forming households in greater numbers, will require the services of real estate agents and brokers to buy their homes. Home sales will be sparked by the continuing desire for people to own their own homes and their perception that real estate will be a good investment over the long run.
However, job growth will be somewhat limited by the increasing use of the Internet, which is improving the productivity of agents and brokers, and transforming the way they do business. For example, prospective customers often can perform their own searches for properties that meet their criteria by accessing real estate information on the Internet.

Projections data from the National Employment Matrix
Occupational Title
SOC Code
Employment, 2008
Employment, 2018
Detailed Statistics
Real estate brokers and sales agents
Real estate brokers
Real estate sales agents
    NOTE: Data in this table are rounded. See the discussion of the employment projections table in the Handbook introductory chapter on Occupational Information Included in the Handbook.

Steve Cook is a nationally recognized speaker and author. He has worked with various companies and organizations as a consultant. He has an extensive background in public relations, journalism and politics. Check out his Real Estate Economics Newsblog on RealTown. Contact Steve at 

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