Real estate agent ranks thin as market suffers
By Yudislaidy Fernandez
Where are the real estate professionals?
The number of new real estate licenses the state issues has dropped dramatically over the past four-plus years, falling from almost 47,000 in 2005 to about 8,300 so far this year, the state says.
The cause: the bursting of the housing bubble, which took much of the market's profits and appeal, leading many part-time practitioners to leave the industry and focus on their other professions, longtime brokers say.
Realtor Matey Veissi, who formerly served on the Florida Real Estate Commission, says many licensees are leaving their licenses inactive and not pursuing real estate careers because of the economy and a troubled real estate market.
A real estate license is valid two years and post-licensing education is required.
From 2005 to 2006, the state issued 12,235 fewer new sales associate and broker licenses, a decline that accelerated from 2006 to 2007, when 16,973 fewer licenses were obtained, according to the Florida Department of Business & Professional Regulation.
During the boom, many people who were practicing real estate didn't have to learn much because properties sold easily, says Ms. Veissi, co-owner of South Miami-based Veissi & Associates. She sits on the Realtor Association of Greater Miami and the Beaches' residential board of directors.
But times have changed, she says, and those experienced and committed professionals are the ones who can thrive in the long term.
"This is a market unlike I have ever seen before," she said. "People who know what they are doing will always be able to make a living in this industry."
For example, she says now she is selling homes in foreclosure and is handling short sales as a way to expand her business in the downturn.
For committed professionals like Ms. Veissi, it's better to have fewer but better-trained players in the industry.
"When the market is in a down cycle, we lose people who did not know what they were doing in the first place," she says, which can cause liability for all parties involved and affect the outcome of a transaction.
Realtor Charlette Seidel, vice president of Coldwell Banker's Coral Gables office, also says she doesn't get as many calls from people seeking part-time real estate work.
Those who came onboard during the boom to make extra money on weekends or find good deals for family and friends are gone today, she says.
Ms. Seidel is seeing a lot of younger professionals, some with corporate backgrounds, knocking at her door looking for a fulltime career in real estate.
Some of those are new licensees, she says, coming in to take advantage of the company's resources such as technology and international exposure and to gain experience. She has 85 sales associates and brokers.
"I like that because this is the kind of business were there is a lot to learn. There's so much you have to know about technology and properties now," she says. "It's a much more complex profession, there's more to know, more disclosure, and is very important to do business correctly."