Real Estate Agents Wake Up from California Dreamin'

It's not news, of course, that real estate agents across the nation have been quitting left and right since the real estate market took a nose dive.

As far back as 2007, in fact, one real estate agent-blogger even laid out her reasons "why it's not a bad idea for realtors [sic] to think about another profession."

"The housing market is going from a period of fast paced growth to a downturn. The amount of business has decreased rapidly...if, as a group, we can't see that the economy has changed, how are we fit to give advice to our clients about what they should do?" she wrote.

Well, here in California, one of the hardest hit of the housing-bubble-burst states, it would appear that many real estate agents heeded that advice.
The state Department of Real Estate is now reporting that by the end of 2009, California had lost 29,247 agents, a drop of 5.5% from the end of the previous year.

Now, granted, that still leaves, according to the department, 503,284 Californians holding real estate licenses (most American towns don't have that many people living in them!), but a sure indication of just how bad the real estate market is suffering in a place that used to be a real estate agent's paradise.

Beginning in 2000, for example, there was a steady increase of Californian's calling themselves real estate agents, according to figures compiled by the Orange County Register. That lasted for almost 8 years! But once home prices began their downward plunge, realtors started tossing their licenses down the toilet.

I remember a young real estate agent who used to live in my condo building here in West Hollywood. He drove a brand new Hummer. He wore designer clothes. He sported a gold Rolex. He had expensive, Italian made sunglasses. He was among the first people I knew who bought a flat screen HDTV! He was always on the phone. He was always showing people condos and co-ops and single family houses. He was happy. He was making money. No, he was making lots of money. No, he was practically minting money. He was a killer agent with the best clients Beverly Hills and West Hollywood had to offer.

I bumped into him about a month ago. He drives a Toyota (slowly, I hope!). He was wearing cloth Vans on his feet. His iPhone was mostly silent as we talked. He is no longer a real estate agent!!!

Charles Feldman is a journalist, media consultant and co-author of the book, "No Time to Think: The Menace of Media Speed and the 24-hour News Cycle." He has written about real estate related issues for several years.
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