The real estate market has taken a somewhat unexpected center stage position during the ongoing battle with the COVID-19 pandemic. While the onset of the pandemic brought the world as we know it—real estate included—to a screeching halt, since then we’ve seen home sales and home prices skyrocket. There are several reasons for this. One key driver is that many home buyers are seeking to relocate either due to a lifestyle change, work-from-home opportunities, or other shifts brought on by the pandemic. Another offshoot of this trend is that there has been an influx of people getting their real estate licenses as a result of our new normal.
A Red-Hot Housing Market
Sellers aren’t the only ones tapping into the benefits of a high-priced, fast-paced housing market. The fierce real estate market has also caught the eye of those looking for a lucrative career opportunity. October of this year alone saw $6.34 million in existing home sales with a median sales price of almost $354,000, up 13% from the year prior. Inventory might be on the lower side, but brokers and agents who are making sales are finding success.
The National Association of REALTORS® membership reached 1.5 million in 2021, up from 1.4 million at the end of 2019. REALTOR® Associations across the country are reporting double-digit increases in membership and license applications have been steady throughout 2020 and 2021. The real estate industry seems to be one of the few fields to escape the brunt of the pandemic, driving more and more people to pursue their real estate licenses in search of a new career path.
The Work-From-Home Trend
As millions of Americans have lost or left their jobs, many have turned to the real estate market for the flexibility, autonomy, and growth that job seekers are looking for in this economic climate. Part of the reason real estate has found success during the pandemic is that REALTORS® can conduct much of their business with little to no in-person contact, making it a position that can easily transition from the office to a remote work environment. New technologies are also becoming more widely used, like virtual tours, electronic paperwork, and e-signature platforms, so real estate pros can do their jobs almost solely online if desired.
Standing Out in a Super-Saturated Market
Top markets across the country (like Boston, Austin, and Chicago) are reporting that the number of licensed agents is widely outpacing the number of listings on the market. The real estate market certainly provides great opportunities, but that’s not to say every new agent will find success. Growing a sustainable real estate business is no easy feat, despite rather low barriers to entry.
Plenty of buyers are available but inventory is tight, and finding new listings has proven to be a challenge for many. Real estate professionals need to find ways to stand out and be creative in a market that’s becoming increasingly lucrative, but also more competitive.
If you’re a new agent, here are a few tips to find success. If you’re a broker with recruits, pass this information on to your new team members:
- The importance of networking: Work on developing new contacts, gaining trust, and establishing yourself as an expert in your local market. Many clubs, community groups, and local organizations, such as Chambers of Commerce or Rotary Clubs, are opening up in-person events again depending on location. Get involved and bring your business cards.
- New agents should learn as much as they can about their new career: Agents ought to consider connecting with an established broker or agent who’s willing to be a mentor. Brokers can offer training, mentoring, or continuing education for your agents. All real estate pros should consistently educate themselves about what is going on in real estate, nationally, regionally, and most importantly, locally, to become a go-to expert.
- Expand your horizons: Being adaptable is key to success in turbulent times, so agents consider taking on additional areas or new responsibilities. Communicate with clients or potential clients regularly to understand what they are looking for and figure out how you can provide it for them, whether it be property management, home flipping, working with investors, or other niches.
- Established agents can be stiff competition—or an avenue for success: New agents can ask top producers if they can shadow them or even work for free on a listing to learn first-hand how to help and build your business. You have to be creative to get your foot in the door in a saturated market.
Knowledgeable real estate pros are in demand. But with low inventory and stiff competition, it can be tough to break in as a new agent. By getting creative, deeply understanding the market, and trying new business approaches, agents can open up lucrative opportunities—but it means putting in the hard work.