The red-hot housing market of the United States has achieved a number of milestones this past year, but perhaps the most telling is this: there are more real-estate agents than homes for sale in this country, reported The Wall Street Journal on Monday.
“This phenomenon reflects both the extremely tight supply of homes on the market and how surging prices are persuading tens of thousands more Americans to try their hands at selling real estate,” it said.
The National Association of Realtors’ (NAR) membership count has exceeded the number of homes on the market only once before, in December 2019, when the number of agents dipped slightly but the inventory of homes for sale declined by more. It happened again last October and has held ever since.
At the end of January, there were 1.04 million homes for sale. That is down by 26 percent from a year earlier and the lowest on record going back to 1982, according to the NAR. Also in January, the NAR had 1.45 million members, up by 4.8 percent from a year earlier.
“It is easy to understand why so many people would sign up for the real-estate profession: the pandemic eliminated millions of jobs, especially in service industries such as restaurants and hospitality,” said the Journal.
The booming housing market suggests there is a lot of money to be made selling homes. And in most states, it doesn’t take much more than taking a course and passing an exam to get a residential real-estate license, it added.
Home sellers generally favor agents with years of experience and proven sales records. That means newer agents tend to represent home buyers, many of whom are struggling to get an offer accepted with so few properties for sale.
Consequently, most agents make little or even no money in the beginning, since they typically rely on commissions and don’t get paid unless a sale is completed.
Realtors with two years of experience or less earned a median gross income of 8,900 U.S. dollars from their real-estate work in 2019, but that figure rises with more years on the job: the median gross income for all NAR agents in 2019 was 49,700 dollars, up from 41,800 dollars in 2018, according to the association.