Would You Want Your Kid to be a Real Estate Agent?

Why are California real estate agents being forgotten? In all the multi-billion dollar bailouts and media and political attention being paid to homeowners during this housing-fueled recession, what happened to real estate agents? We understand and empathize with the pain homeowners are going through these days, but agents are hurting as well. Who’s standing up for them?

In July, the California unemployment rate grew to over 12.6% — a number which doesn’t even include real estate agents. Where’s the California real estate news about agents? Commission-based real estate agents can’t collect unemployment because they are independent contractors and so are rarely included in official jobless numbers. How many real estate agents are collecting unemployment? How many real estate agents can’t afford health care?

The fact of the matter is that the health of the real estate profession should be a priority for the government and the media. The economy will never completely recover until the real estate sector is back at work – and that includes agents, mortgage brokers, appraisers, home builders and others. It’s estimated that California alone lost 1.3 million real estate industry jobs since the property bubble burst. Is it any wonder we have the second-highest unemployment rate in the nation?

With the formation of the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) consumers now have an advocate to protect them. But who has the agents’ best interests at heart? Should the California Department of Real Estate be more aggressive in protecting agents and helping them deal with the current market? If not, where should the agent turn when times are tough?

Unfortunately, there aren’t many good answers. Enhancing your skills and gaining additional credentials through continuing professional education can help but it costs money in the short term and takes the agent away from doing what they need to do to make money – sell houses.

What are some other options? How have you managed to survive, or even thrive, in these tough times? Since no organization seems to be taking up the charge to help protect agents, real estate professionals need to lean on each other. How can you help a fellow agent? Or is the market so tough right now that it’s survival of the fittest?

Please share your thoughts with us.

  • re Bob

    Your plumber, carpet layer, and even house painter has more government support than an agent! I sold 2 houses in ALL of 2011. What did EDD tell me, GO TO the WELFARE DEPARTMENT!!

    So much for trying, right?

  • Annie

    I am a new Real Estate Agent (3years) In addition to the obvious problems with lower sales prices, and buyers struggling to qualify, I am faced with crippling cost of health insurance. For a single woman in her 60s my health insurance tab, with a $5,000 deductable, is over $8,000 a year!!!! Add to that auto and home insurance, association dues, car expenses, and a printer constantly begging for ink, it takes most of the year to just break even. HELP!!!!

    • RE-Insider

      We’re all in the same boat. Income is down, expenses are up, and nobody – not CAR, not the government – seems to want to help.

  • Anonymous

    I think many of us have come from others businesses or professions, landing as Realtors by default because we were either phased out…or burned out by our former careers. In my case, I made a good living as a freelance marketing writer And now, I’ve regenerated that skill and adapted it to today’s web-based market.

    And, I’ve discovered a lucrative niche I never realized even existed…romance fiction. What a hoot it is to write these stories read by millions every day!

    • RE-Insider

      You’re one of the lucky ones who has found another way to bring in money. But agents need somebody to speak up for them as a group.

      On a side note, I’d be happy to post a preview of your next romance novel!!!

  • Charles

    We Realtors choose to be such and consequently must be prepared to shoulder the expenses of self-employment. That requires a nest egg, a spouse with benefits or the discipline to save money for inevitable rainy days. Unfortunately, too many felt themselves deserving of the trappings if success during the good times which smart money knows doesn’t last indefinitely. I can’t feel for those folks frankly.

    • RE-Insider

      I agree wholeheartedly. But that doesn’t mean that agents shouldn’t have somebody standing up for them. Everybody needs help at some point and it would be nice if agents had somebody, anybody, to speak up for them.

  • Mimi

    You said above that the 12.6% unemployment doesn’t include real estate agents. Is there any way to get percentages or stats just based on RE agents?

    • RE-Insider

      My advice would be to ask CAR if they have those numbers. As RE agents can’t really claim unemployment, numbers will be hard to get.

  • pattie

    Not to mention if we sell a home usually a Short Sale because of the new SB 458, the banks want realtors to contribute to the sellers default from our commission. Not only selling fewer homes we have more work and commissions reduced. The new bill has made it more difficult to negotiate with lenders. The new bill was sponsored by CAR
    No one has our back. Seems to me Realtors are the only ones helping to fix the economy by saving homes from foreclosure and thereby keeping real estate from declining more than it has.

    In response to the one comment. Some of us are not married and do not have a spouse’s income. Yes I agree save for a rainy day. Too many rainy days and 401K have tanked. We use to supplement with a part time jobs. But there are NO jobs. Glad you are okay and can sit on judgements of others.

    • RE-Insider

      CAR should be working to help agents, but passing bills like SB 458 seem to be pushing more and more agents out of the industry. That seems to be counter-productive to me. Be sure to tell CAR how you feel by sending them a note from the “Contact Us” page on their website.

  • Chelsea

    The Home buying public have incredibly poor public opinions of Real Estate Professionals. In 2009 only 22% of home buyers and sellers said they were happy with their Real Estate Professional. The industry does not require training, or even competence. The national average for sales among Realtors is 5 per year, and most work part time. This market is weeding out those that don’t take the profession seriously, and those that do a poor job.

    • RE-Insider

      Survival of the fittest, I agree. But there is no help for agents who want to learn to be better at their job, and people who devote all their time to a job tend to do better at it. We must help the people who really want to learn and teach them to be some of the good agents.

  • Lisa

    I too am a real estate agent! Working my butt off, two kids to support, losing my home and my car. I stress everyday as I have tried to find a job for 9 months and can’t get hired. Yes, I have applied everywhere, minimum wage jobs etc. I am really scared as there is no help from anyone and I and my kids are going to be homeless soon!