The number of new agents joining the industry fell precipitously in the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, based on licensing data compiled by Agent Advice, a real estate agent review and publishing website. But after a steep drop, things are starting to level out, although still not near last year’s pace.
“Real estate agents have an entrepreneurial spirit and are always ready for a challenge,” Jasen Edwards, head of the Agent Advice editorial board, said in a statement. “The initial scare of the pandemic naturally caught everyone off guard. But people are still getting their licenses, and times like these are rewarding for those who seek out opportunities in the market.”
When the pandemic hit, many states and local municipalities were forced to shut down operations, which led to a lag in new licenses in April. Florida saw the biggest drop, with new licenses down 97 percent, which was followed closely by Texas, where they were down 94 percent versus the year prior. In California, new licenses dropped 59 percent.
The study looked at those three states to get what it believes is a representational sample, as they account for roughly 36 percent of national licenses.
The ensuing months saw a rebound, but as of July, new licenses were still down 29 percent year over year in Florida, and 12 percent year over year in Texas. Data wasn’t immediately available for California.
Data from the National Association of Realtors (NAR), however, shows that the association had 1,409,727 members at the end of July, which is a year-over-year increase of 1.9 percent. Association membership is also up 1 percent month over month, which shows agents are getting their licenses.
The steep increase that followed the lulls seen in the early days of the pandemic likely means that the industry won’t see any issues with agent availability blocking home sales.
The study from Agent Advice came to similar conclusions as a report by Inman, published in July, that looked at licensing data from 32 states. The report found that the pandemic didn’t slow new agent real estate license applications.