Employment change. Employment of real estate brokers and sales agents is expected to grow 14 percent during the 2008-18 decade, faster than average for all occupations. A growing population, particularly young adults who will be forming households in greater numbers, will require the services of real estate agents and brokers to buy their homes. Home sales will be sparked by the continuing desire for people to own their own homes and their perception that real estate will be a good investment over the long run. However, job growth will be somewhat limited by the increasing use of the Internet, which is improving the productivity of agents and brokers, and transforming the way they do business. For example, prospective customers often can perform their own searches for properties that meet their criteria by accessing real estate information on the Internet.
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Job prospects. In addition to job growth, a large number of job openings will arise from the need to replace workers who transfer to other occupations or leave the labor force. Real estate brokers and sales agents are older, on average, than most other workers, and many are expected to leave the occupation over the next decade.
Employment of real estate brokers and sales agents is sensitive to swings in the economy, such as a recession. During periods of declining economic activity or rising interest rates, the volume of sales and the resulting demand for sales workers fall. As a result, the income of agents and brokers declines, and many work fewer hours or leave the occupation altogether. Over the coming decade, the opportunity for part-time work is expected to decline. Although the occupation is relatively easy to enter, increasingly complex legal and technological requirements are raising startup costs associated with becoming an agent and making it more difficult for part-time workers to enter the occupation.
Well-trained, ambitious people who enjoy selling—particularly those with extensive social and business connections in their communities—should have the best chance for success. However, beginning agents and brokers often face competition from their well-established, more experienced counterparts in obtaining listings and in closing an adequate number of sales.
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2010-11 Edition