How Many Real Estate Agents Are There And How To Fine a Good One?

According to the latest estimates by the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR), there are approximately 2 million licensed real estate agents in the United States.  Last year, according to the NAR, there were a total of 5.341 million existing homes sold which equates to one agent for every 2.67 homes sold during the year in the U.S.  Wow, talk about competition!  Granted, not all licensed agents sell residential real estate as many focus us on commercial real estate, including industrial, retail, office, multi-family, and land, and others focus on farms, large tracts of land, recreational property, etc.  Nonetheless, there is still a lot of competition in the real estate industry.

As of last month, there are 1,327,880 real estate agents that are members of the National Associaton of REALTORS® (NAR) and, according to a survey done by NAR of its membership, 70% of their members (929,516) list residential real estate brokerage and their primary field of practice.

How to choose a good real estate agent….

One question that is frequently asked by people interested in buying or selling a home is how should they choose a real estate agent?  You can find extensive information on how to choose a good agent at, but below is a list of questions to consider asking an agent you are considering working with:

  • Are you a full-time real estate agent?
  • Are you a REALTOR®?
  • How long have you been an agent?
  • What professional designations and industry awards have you received?
  • How do they communicate?
  • Do they know technology and does their firm use it for your benefit?
  • Ask to be walked through the sales transaction.

Will Zillow Put Real Estate Agents Out of Business?

It would be an understatement to say that Zillow® has many real estate agents nervous about their future.  It’s not just Zillow® though, it’s Amazon, big banks, and dozens and dozens of new real estate start-ups and changing business models.

A true dysfunctional family…

The most common name that comes up in real estate agent circles when discussing the impact of the internet on the real estate profession topic is Zillow®, and usually in the context of “the enemy“, so to speak.  It seems to me the biggest fear among agents about Zillow® is that they want to eliminate real estate agents and instead give consumers a marketplace to buy and sell homes without the need for an agent.  What is most interesting to me about this, is that Zillow® made something like nearly $1 Billion last year from selling leads to, guess who? Yep, real estate agents. So, the group that is afraid Zillow® is gunning for them, is lining their coffers with cash to do so, see the dysfunction?  To be clear, I’m not blaming agents here for doing business with Zillow®, nor am I saying what Zillow® is doing is wrong, I’m just commenting on what I see and find it rather fascinating.

But wait there’s more…

Going back to Zillow® and all those leads they sell to agents, what makes it even more interesting is the fact that Zillow® is able to generate all those leads as a result of getting more than 1 million real estate agents in the U.S. to send their listings to them and give them permission to market them.  Hmm…

Low Quality Real Estate Agents Threaten The Industry – So how do you choose a good one?

I often find myself very surprised to hear how a consumer chose the real estate agent they hired to represent them and hear things such as “I work with him…”, “She is a friend of….”, “He is my cousin…” etc.  When I hear these responses several things come to mind:

  • Wow, our industry has done a poor job of looking and acting like professionals in the eyes of the consumer.  So much so that many consumers don’t see a real estate agent as a true professional or, if they do, they don’t seem to use the same selection process as they would when selecting other professionals.
  • Many consumers think the process of buying and/or selling a home is much simpler than it really is and has far less liability associated with it than it really does.  Like many things, buying or selling a home today is much more regulated than it was even just 10 years ago the penalty for mistakes has grown significantly.  Come October 3rd, when the boat load of additional regulations associated with the Dodd-Frank Act go into effect, it will become even worse.
  • Consumers deserve to be more informed about the home-buying (or selling) process as well as how the real estate industry, and agents within it, work.  They also need to understand what to look for in an agent and choose one like they would choose an attorney, doctor or CPA.

The real estate industry is concerned about low-quality agents…shouldn’t you be?

Recently, there have been two reports issued by key players in the real estate industry, the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR) and Inman, in which concern about low quality real estate agents was expressed.  In the NAR report, title the “D.A.N.G.E.R. Report”, in which the trade association examined what they saw as threats to the real estate industry, under the “Dangers to Agents” category, #1 on the list was “Masses of Marginal Agents…”.

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