Meet the Latest Housing Slump Victim: Your Real Estate Agent

The housing slump has hurt U.S. construction companies, banks and a number of related industries, from home renovation material retailers like Home Depot to power tool companies.

And let’s not forget real estate agents.

How are they faring as the market crumbles? Not well, according to a number of recent reports.

For the first time in a decade, the National Association of Realtors expects membership to decline this year, the Associated Press reported this week. Last year, the NAR had almost twice its 1997 membership.

Realtor income has also dropped — falling on a national level from $49,300 in 2004 to $47,700 in 2006, according to the National Association of Realtors. That may be the result of real estate agents cutting their typical 6 percent rate for a lower commission in order to land a sale.

A brief snapshot of Realtor life around the country:

  • Slowdown in S.C. South Carolina is adding about 500 new real estate agents a month, but the rate of new agents is declining, AP says. The number of new real estate licensees grew at an average of 45.3 percent annually from 2002 to 2006, but in the past year has fallen to a 1.4 percent increase.
  • Vegas’ Top Magic Act: Disappearing Realtors. Las Vegas was one of the hardest hit areas in the slump. That’s because it saw one of the biggest booms: And as it did, the overall number of Nevada licensed real estate agents leapt to 36,785 in 2006 from 17,718 in 2000. But now, 21 percent of the 37,000 licensed real estate agents in the state have become inactive has of this month, according to the Nevada Association of Realtors 2006 State of the Industry Report.
  • A Market Test in Virginia. The number of real estate exam applicants in Virginia dropped 45 percent in the first six months of 2007, compared to the same period in 2006, according to the Virginia Department of Professional and Occupational Regulation (as reported by the Roanoke Times).

In short: Don’t expect to see a plethora of "SOLD" stickers added to those For Sales signs in your neighborhood anytime soon.

Data would imply the real estate industry is struggling — but the industry’s reaction to the recent bad housing news might surprise you.

Curious how Realtors are handling the slump? Tune in tomorrow for part two of our look at the state of real estate.