Florida real estate licenses nosedive 75% in 5 years
By Yudislaidy Fernandez
After an exodus of real estate professionals triggered by the residential market meltdown, it appears many who left the industry haven't returned.
In the past six years, real estate licenses issued in Florida have fallen dramatically, from almost 47,000 in 2005 to 11,700 in 2010, according to the Florida Department of Business & Professional Regulation.
Total real estate broker and sales licenses inched up in the last two years, the data show, increasing from 10,437 in 2008 to 11,863 in 2009 and then slightly dropping to 11,746 in 2010.
In today's market, the double-digit unemployment rate has led some professionals from other industries to test the real estate waters, said Realtor Carole Smith, a member of the Master Brokers Forum's board of directors.
"But it's a difficult business to break into right now because I think the voice of experience carries into every aspect of the industry," said Ms. Smith, a Realtor with Esslinger-Wooten-Maxwell Realtors.
Realtor Charlette Seidel, managing broker of Coldwell Banker's Coral Gables office, said so far this year the office is getting more calls from new agents coming in from retail sales, computer sales and hospital administration, and even some small business owners on the path to a career change.
Younger professionals, many ages 25 to 30, are also looking to enter real estate, Ms. Seidel said. They tend to work well with younger buyers who are actively searching the market for a first home.
"Certainly they are coming in with a huge awareness of social media," Ms. Smith added. "That will serve them well with their contemporaries because they are all going to be speaking the same language."
Ms. Seidel noted she is also seeing more people over 40 whose children are now in school and have more time to work, as well as some men entering the business.
At Coldwell Banker, she said, new agents go through a training program and managers don't compete, focusing instead on training and coaching agents.
The bursting of the housing bubble, which took much of the market's profits and appeal, led many part-time practitioners to exit and focus on other professions.
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 regulation department.
A Florida real estate license is valid two years and post-licensing education is required.
So far this year, 2,030 licenses have been issued.
The decline in professionals joining the industry has been positive for the market, Ms. Smith said, because realtors today are more respected than 20 years ago.
"There is a lot of respect and appreciation for getting the job done," she said. "If we can keep out the non-serious, non-professional individuals and keep it for those who call it their profession, then I think we are going to raise the bar and everyone is going to benefit."
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