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Housing Sector Drives Job Losses


  • Total employed: 1.01 million, down 26% since the peak in 2006
Christian Kieffer /

During the housing peak, there was a spike in new real estate sales reps, but once sales plummeted those who entered the field last were also the first to leave, says Walter Molony, spokesman for the National Association of Realtors. The number of realtors dropped an additional 6% from 2010, according to the NAR.

Those who stuck around share similarities: 72% of them have other realty jobs in areas including property management, relocation services or land development. This helped them survive financially during years of poor home sales, experts say. Also, those who’ve remained in the business have more years of experience, which means they probably have more repeat customers and networking connections that lead to more clients during lackluster sales cycles, says Molony.

If sales continue to pick up, it’s uncertain how long it could take for real estate agents and brokers to swarm back into the market. The NAR is projecting a 9% to 10% increase in home sales this year and says median member income is up for the first time since 2002 to $34,900. That’s a 2.3% increase from 2011. Still, the association expects membership levels to remain stable – at least for this year.

Impact on home buyers and sellers: Fewer real estate agents and brokers might help both buyers and sellers, experts say. “It’s to their benefit that a lot of the more marginal, less informed, less skilled agents are dropping out,” says Goldman. In 2007, realtors had a median experience of seven years – the lowest in the history of the NAR’s survey that dates back to 1997. This year, that figure is up to 11 years.

A booming housing market tends to attract employees looking to make a quick buck, says Goldman. In this market, the chances of running into such a person are slimmer. The NAR’s Molony says with fewer less-experienced agents and brokers in the market, home buyers and sellers are likely choosing among a more experienced pool of real estate professionals.



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