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The U.S. Now Has More Realtors than Home Listings

It’s an unusual situation, but heavy U.S. job losses boosted the number of new agents; at the same time, the number of for-sale properties hit record lows.

NEW YORK – The number of real estate agents working in the U.S. housing market has surpassed the number of homes for sale.

This phenomenon reflects both the extremely tight supply of homes on the market, and how surging prices persuaded tens of thousands more Americans to try their hand at selling real estate.

The National Association of Realtors®’ (NAR) membership count has exceeded the number of homes on the market only once before, in December 2019, when the number of agents dipped slightly but the inventory of homes for sale declined even more. It happened again last October and has held ever since.

At the end of January, the U.S. had 1.04 million homes for sale, down 26% from a year earlier and the lowest on record going back to 1982, according to NAR. In January, NAR had 1.45 million members, up 4.8% from a year earlier.

The rise in real estate agents comes amid a booming housing market, which suggests there is a lot of money to be made selling homes. NAR says business is fluid. About 15% of its membership turns over every year, and the number of agents tends to roughly correlate with the performance of the housing market.

Source: Wall Street Journal (03/21/21) Friedman, Nicole

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