If you hang your shingle in Honolulu, you are working in the best place in the country — and not just because of the weather. But if you practice your craft in Jackson, Mississippi, you’re in the worst place to list and sell real estate.

If you hang your shingle in Honolulu, you are working in the best place in the country — and not just because of the weather.

But if you practice your craft in Jackson, Mississippi, you’re in the worst place to list and sell real estate.

Which is to say that the time-worn homily “location, location, location” applies just as much to real estate practitioners as it does to homebuyers.

And according to an in-depth analysis by the personal finance website Wallet Hub, Hawaii’s capital is the best place to be a real estate agent, bar none, whereas Jackson is the worst. At least the worst among the 150 markets covered in the study.

Fittingly called “2017’s Best Places to Be a Real Estate Agent,” the Wallet Hub analysis looked at about a dozen key indicators, ranging from sales-per-agent to the annual median wage earned by agents to a housing market health index.

Other best and worst indicators included:

  • Median home price
  • Realty employment attractiveness and competition (number of agents per working age population and number of real estate job openings per resume)
  • Annual real estate employment growth
  • Annual median wage growth for realty jobs
  • The unemployment rate
  • Projected number of real estate jobs needed by 2020
  • Home turnover rate
  • Days on the market
  • Average ratio of sales price to list price
  • Building permit activity
  • Percentage of home flips

These metrics were weighted against two key dimensions, job opportunity and competition and the health of the real estate market.

However, the sample considered only the city proper, and excluded cities in the surrounding area.

And now — drumroll, please — the top 10 best places, in descending order, were: Honolulu, Seattle, Denver, Boston, Aurora (Colorado), Madison (Wisconsin), Reno, San Francisco, Irvine and Austin.

Some other bests:

  • Oxnard, California, has the most sales per agent in the past year at 114 and the lowest realty job density at 1.28.
  • San Francisco has the highest median house price at $799,000 and listings that are on the market for the shortest period at 47 days.
  • Bakersfield, California, has the highest agent median wage at $89,890.
  • Sioux Falls has the lowest unemployment rate at 2.3 percent.
  • Henderson, Nevada, has the highest home turnover rate at 9.87 percent.
  • Yonkers, New York, has the highest average ratio of sales to list price at 2.03.

The worst places, in ascending order, were Jackson, Shreveport, Fayetteville (North Carolina) , Springfield (Missouri), New Orleans, Detroit, Milwaukee, Columbus (Georgia), Cleveland and Toledo.

Also worth noting:

  • Houston has the fewest sales per agent at 8, or 14 times fewer than in Oxnard.
  • Detroit’s median house price is the lowest at $42,300. In contrast, San Francisco’s is 19 times higher. The Motor City also has the lowest home turnover rate at 2 percent or 5 times less than Henderson.
  • Agents in Laredo, Texas, earn $21,060 a year, about a fourth of what agents in Bakersfield make.
  • Places in New York City average 162 days on the market, three times that of San Francisco.

The study is the latest in a series of Wallet Hub best-and-worst reports that includes cities for first-time buyers, real estate markets, cities to flip houses and cities in which to reside.

To gain insight and advice on current and future conditions shaping the real estate business, the site consulted with a panel of experts from academia.

Asked what young agents need to get ahead, panelist David Funk suggested they become more sophisticated, data-driven professionals who can advise buyers and sellers more holistically.

“Preparation that used to be defined by high school required and college degree preferred has become college graduate with advanced financial modeling and market analysis desired,” said Funk, who is the Pasquinelli Chair in Real Estate at the College of Business at Roosevelt University in Chicago.

Funk also said agents should not feel threatened by the myriad of on-line tools offering their services directly to potential clients. Rather, they should “become engaged and seek ways to blend these apps and efficiencies into their own services ad marketing tools,” he said.

“Change is happening and we are all challenged to ‘keep up’ and compete.”

And to protect themselves from the boom-and-bust cycle of the housing market, agents were advised that the one and only way is to offer good customer service.

“The phone never stops ringing for agents who simply work to help people,” Funk said.

Best places to sell real estate Worst places to sell real estate
1. Honolulu, Hawaii 150. Jackson, Mississippi
2. Seattle, Washington 149. Shreveport, Louisiana
3. Denver, Colorado 148. Fayetteville, North Carolina
4. Boston, Massachusetts 147. Springfield, Missouri
5. Aurora, Colorado 146. New Orleans, Louisiana
6. Madison, Wisconsin 145. Detroit, Michigan
7. Reno, Nevada 144. Milwaukee, Wisconsin
8. San Francisco, California 143. Columbus, Georgia
9. Irvine, California 142. Cleveland, Ohio
10. Austin, Texas 141. Toledo, Ohio

Lew Sichelman’s weekly column, “The Housing Scene,” is syndicated to newspapers throughout the country.

Email Lew Sichelman

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