Realtor ranks expected to shrink this year

And that's a good thing, say some professionals

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This year, membership in the National Association of Realtors is expected to drop after nine consecutive years of growth.

And good riddance, say some real estate professionals — fewer agents may be better for the industry as a whole.

The trade group’s membership grew 89.6 percent during the latest spurt, from 716,078 members in 1997 to 1.36 million Realtors in 2006. But real estate is a cyclical business, and the housing market is slumping.