As the housing market heats up again, the real estate industry is facing a new challenge: finding enough younger agents.
Even though many of the top agents make well into six-figures, a new survey shows real estate executives here and across the country are worried about not attracting new blood.
“Clearly there’s a resurgence in the housing market among the Gen X and Gen Y participants, and that’s the next market,” says Kevin Hawkins, the vice president of Imprev Inc., a Bellevue real estate marketing firm that did the survey. “The concern of brokers is not just for today, but what business is going to look like tomorrow.”
While buyers are getting younger, agents are not. Only six-percent are under the age of 34.
“The average age of a realtor is 57 years old. The average age of an American worker is 41 years old. If you look at the typical age of a first time home buyer, it’s 31. So, there’s clearly an age gap,” he says.
During the housing meltdown between 2007 and 2010, there was a tremendous weeding out process in the industry. Hawkins says it was survival of the fittest, and many of the less-experienced agents got out of the business.
But the housing market is booming again, yet 42 percent of the real estate executives surveyed said the need for more agents is their number one concern. They’re worried that younger, qualified candidates are going into other industries, and they’re taking their talents with them.
“Younger agents are much more adept with technology and the internet and all the other tools that people want to use when they first start looking for a home. The surveys show that older agents are more reluctant to adopting the new technologies,” Hawkins says.
Pamela Jensen is a longtime managing broker for Windermere. She has trained many new agents over the last two decades and says being “young” in the industry can work against you.
“What I have found is that if they’re too young, nobody uses them,” she says. “Many homeowners want someone who has owned a home, or who’s bought and sold one. If you’re 23, you haven’t done that.”
She says even the Gen X-ers who work in the tech industry want someone who’s experienced because buying a home is one of the biggest investments they’ll ever make.
But Hawkins says with the average age of a real estate agent being 57, the top execs realize they need to revamp their recruiting strategies so that they can attract younger realtors.
“If they don’t do it now and this group of realtors ages to a point they start retiring, which we’re getting close to that tipping point, then you’ll see a real loss of opportunity of taking that experience and knowledge and imparting it on a whole new workforce,” he says.