Average employment growth is expected because of the increasing housing needs of a growing population, as well as the perception that real estate is a good investment. Beginning agents and brokers face competition from their well-established, more experienced counterparts.
Employment change. Employment of real estate brokers and sales agents is expected to grow 11 percent during the 2006-16 projection decade-about as fast as the average for all occupations. Relatively low interest rates and the perception that real estate usually is a good investment may continue to stimulate sales of real estate, resulting in the need for more agents and brokers. However, job growth will be somewhat limited by the increasing use of technology, which is improving the productivity of agents and brokers. For example, prospective customers often can perform their own searches for properties that meet their criteria by accessing real estate information on the Internet. The increasing use of technology is likely to be more detrimental to part-time or temporary real estate agents than to full-time agents because part-time agents generally are not able to compete with full-time agents who have invested in new technology. Changing legal requirements, such as disclosure laws, also may dissuade some who are not serious about practicing full time from continuing to work part time.
Job prospects. In addition to job growth, a large number of job openings will arise from the need to replace workers who transfer to other occupations or leave the labor force. Real estate brokers and sales agents are older, on average, than are most other workers. Historically, many homemakers and retired people were attracted to real estate sales by the flexible and part-time work schedules characteristic of the field. These individuals could enter, leave, and later return to the occupation, depending on the strength of the real estate market, their family responsibilities, or other personal circumstances. Recently, however, the attractiveness of part-time real estate work has declined, as increasingly complex legal and technological requirements are raising startup costs associated with becoming an agent.
Employment of real estate brokers and sales agents often is sensitive to swings in the economy, especially interest rates. During periods of declining economic activity and rising interest rates, the volume of sales and the resulting demand for sales workers falls. As a result, the earnings of agents and brokers decline, and many work fewer hours or leave the occupation altogether.
This occupation is relatively easy to enter and is attractive because of its flexible working conditions; the high interest in, and familiarity with, local real estate markets that entrants often have; and the potential for high earnings. Therefore, although gaining a job as a real estate agent or broker may be relatively easy, beginning agents and brokers face competition from their well-established, more experienced counterparts in obtaining listings and in closing an adequate number of sales.
Well-trained, ambitious people who enjoy selling-particularly those with extensive social and business connections in their communities-should have the best chance for success.