For Victoria Murphy, a RE/MAX agent in Oahu, Hawaii, getting her Realtor license was always a part of her plan. But shut-down orders in March helped push the college student to get it done.
Murphy said the shut-down gave her enough time to get through the pre-licensing course and she was able to enter the real estate world feeling excited and determined. And she wasn’t alone.
A new report from AgentAdvice revealed that in April, when the pandemic forced shut-down orders across the country, the number of newly licensed real estate agents in Florida and Texas fell to practically zero.
In states where strict shelter-in-place orders were in effect, like California, Texas and Florida, new licenses sank completely in April – 59%, 94% and 97% respectively, year over year according to AgentAdvice.
But as the spring gave way to a record-breaking summer for home sales, the profession began attracting a lot of attention. By the end of July, the National Association of Realtors reported that it had grown to 1,409,727 total members, up 1.9% from the same time last year.
Jim D’Amico, broker and owner of Century 21 North East, said that there have been record numbers of prospective real estate agents enrolling in Century 21‘s real estate school program, Century 21 University.
D’Amico told HousingWire that typically, the brokerage sticks to hiring experienced agents, but the pandemic really changed that.
“I’ve never done this before, but a month ago I ran an ad on Indeed for newly licensed agents, or people looking to get their license,” D’Amico said. “And it’s blown up, it’s keeping us busy all week long.”
That ad got about 340 inquiries in the span of 30 days, D’Amico said.
In the Sacramento area, Jodi Martinez said she has seen a surge of newly licensed hires come to Century 21 Select because of the pandemic as well.
Layoffs, forced retirement and second or third career choices seem to be the main reasons Martinez sees people getting their licenses.
“Also I’m seeing an insurgency…I think it’s part of the pandemic but also has to do with a really strong housing market and the fact that rates are really low,” Martinez said.
“Many people are buying into real estate becoming very relevant again,” Martinez said. “What I’m also finding is that people don’t want to be necessarily tied to a job that determines their livelihood or their future, many people love the flexibility of real estate as well as the probability to create their own income stream and be responsible for their own income stream.”
Keller Williams’ Director of Growth, Matt Green, said a similar thing – uncertainty in other parts of the job market is driving more people to get their real estate licenses.
Across all of Keller Williams’ brokerages, about 3,000 to 3,500 newly licensed real estate agents joined per month over the past few months.
“I definitely think in the conversations that we’re having is that with the uncertainty in some of the traditional job markets and even in some cases, situations where they’ve been laid off, they are looking for opportunities where they have more control of their destiny,” Green said.
“I think in some ways I do think that we are seeing an influx of agents that are very intentional about their interest in really controlling their own destiny,” Green said.
What’s one piece of advice that Murphy would give to newly licensed agents? Don’t let your mindset limit what you can do.
“I know a fear that’s really common – here in Hawaii, at least – is the concept of ‘Oh, my market is saturated,’” Murphy said.
“I am a strong believer that a market is never saturated with real estate agents because as a Realtor, we have the opportunity to make ourselves different and stand out,” Murphy said. “There’s a lot of fun and creative things that you can do to drive business your way and set yourself apart. So I think the concept of saturation is really just a limiting mindset. Just to try to work through shifting that and seeing, ‘Okay, yeah, there are a lot of realtors, but what makes me special?’ and running with that.”