Could there be a Shortage of Real Estate Agents in the Future?

It seemed like just yesterday, when the market was flooded with RE agents. Home prices were booming, business was good, and it seemed like everywhere you went there was a new real estate office opening up around the corner.

But things have changed and one Southern California agent fears the industry could soon face a shortage of real estate professionals as the result of an aging workforce and a lack of effective recruitment.

“There will be a shortage of real estate agents in the not too distant future,” said Mel Wilson, broker and owner of Mel Wilson & Associates Realtors in Northridge. “Last year over 100,000 Realtors got out of the business, and 41 percent of all Realtors right now are 60 years old or older.”

Figures from the National Association of Realtors show that in 2015 only 2 percent of Realtors were under age 30. A 2013 member profile survey from the California Association of Realtors revealed that a typical Realtor in California was 58 years old, up from 55 the previous year.

It doesn’t help that realty firms aren’t effectively recruiting new agents, Wilson said.

“They have to better package this as a career and not just as a part-time gig,” he said. “They also need to help people who are starting out in the business by giving them some type of compensation during that first six to nine months at minimum to help them transition into the career. With most realty companies it’s all commission driven, so you really have to work hard, and have good people skills. If you don’t have those you shouldn’t get into the business.”

Tom Adams, owner of Century 21 Adams & Barnes in Monrovia and Glendora, has a more positive take on the situation — and on aging real estate professionals.

“I think new people coming into the industry has slowed but I don’t necessarily think it will create a shortage,” he said. “And I don’t think anyone wants to entrust their most valuable asset to a 22-year-old kid who just got out of college. There is a certain amount of wisdom that comes with age and maturity that I think people want to see.”

Most didn’t set out to enter the real estate industry

Many who ended up in the industry didn’t necessarily set out to become real estate agents, according to Wilson.

“No one in high school or college is saying, ‘I want to be a Realtor,’” he said. “Being a Realtor is probably a second or third career choice for most folks. You do find a small percentage of business majors who got a degree in real estate and became realtors, but it’s rare. Most people want some kind of guaranteed salary. People who get out of college today usually have $30,000 or more in student debt and that debt kicks in six months after they graduate. No one wants to have ongoing bills but no money coming in.”

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