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A whole bunch of Mainers have gone into actual property as the new market begins to chill. Now what?

A sale was pending for this home on Kent Avenue in Portland, as proven in a 2020 file photograph. The variety of Maine dwelling gross sales fell almost 20% in February from the entire throughout February 2022. Ben McCanna/Portland Press Herald

Whereas many industries battle to draw employees as of late, Maine’s actual property companies have confronted the other state of affairs.

The red-hot housing market, coupled with the enchantment of a versatile, self-dictated schedule, has drawn a whole lot to get licensed and begin promoting properties in Maine. However because the market begins to chill and stock shrinks, consultants query whether or not the sector can maintain so many individuals promoting so few properties.

The variety of actual property brokers in Maine has grown by double-digit percentages because the begin of the pandemic.

In February 2019, there have been 6,513 licensed brokers within the state, based on the Maine Division of Skilled and Monetary Regulation. By February 2023, that quantity had elevated 14% to 7,436.

That’s even barely greater than the nationwide development of roughly 12%.

The Nationwide Affiliation of Realtors reported a record-high membership of 1.6 million final yr, and more than 100,000 individuals joined their ranks between 2020 and 2021 – nearly double the 55,000 between 2019 and 2020.

“Methods to turn into an actual property agent” was the highest job-related Google search time period between January 2021 and January 2022.

Carmen McPhail, president of the Maine Affiliation of Realtors, mentioned the elevated curiosity within the career is sensible.

“Actual property has all the time been very engaging to individuals due to the flexibleness,” mentioned McPhail, who can also be a dealer with United Nation Life-style Properties of Maine.

The job is engaging but additionally dangerous, particularly because the market contracts. About 1 in 10 new brokers received’t be capable to make it full time, The New York Instances has reported.

It’s too quickly to say if there will probably be a flood of brokers leaving the actual property business.

Traditionally, the variety of brokers has grown in busy actual property markets after which dies down as exercise falls. In 2005 and 2006, greater than 255,000 individuals turned brokers. In 2008, after the market crashed, the quantity declined by greater than 10%.

However consultants say this market is completely different as a result of there are so few homes on the market.

Costs are leveling and houses could also be sitting available on the market longer. However with so many patrons and so few properties, properties are nonetheless being snapped up shortly – usually with a number of presents nicely over the asking worth.

In February, solely 708 Maine properties modified fingers, an nearly 20% drop from the identical month a yr earlier. With over 7,000 licensed brokers, the newest transactions work out to roughly 10 actual property brokers for every home offered. McPhail famous that not all actual property brokers promote homes. Some promote land or workplace buildings, so the ratio isn’t essentially a transparent comparability.

Nonetheless, the disproportion is dramatic.

Because the market begins to chill down, nevertheless, consultants say the variety of brokers will observe go well with.

With fewer gross sales and extra brokers, instances are robust, mentioned Lawrence Yun, chief economist for the Nationwide Affiliation of Realtors.

“Naturally, with fewer dwelling gross sales, some will depart the business,” he mentioned in an announcement. “In a way, Realtors wish to see fewer Realtors as a result of great amount of business competitors.”

Some who’re half time would possibly flip their consideration to different pursuits. Some full-time brokers would possibly go half time.

That shift could also be occurring already throughout the U.S.

In 2021, the Nationwide Affiliation of Realtors added, on common, greater than 8,400 new Realtors per thirty days. By November 2022, that development had slowed to about 4,100 new members. In December, when stock was particularly slim, membership rolls reversed course. The Realtor depend plummeted by over 17,000, the biggest one-month drop since December 2009.


Cassie Symonds by no means deliberate on being an actual property agent. Neither did Dan Demeo or Joseph Menard.

Their backgrounds have been all completely different.

Symonds, 26, began out in promoting gross sales for a TV community in New York Metropolis. Demeo, 35, was a structural engineer. Menard, 34, has a background in schooling however was most not too long ago working in gross sales and property administration.

However all of them discovered their approach to Maine’s actual property career over the past three years and don’t have any intention to return to their previous careers.

Cassie Symonds turned an actual property agent in Portland a couple of yr in the past. A whole bunch of Mainers have flocked to such jobs because the begin of the pandemic. Gregory Rec/Employees Photographer

When the pandemic hit in 2020, actual property brokers have been thought-about important employees. On the similar time, many individuals discovered themselves working from dwelling or out of labor altogether, and the state’s housing market was choosing up steam. It may well take as little as a number of weeks to acquire an actual property license, so many noticed it as a really perfect alternative.

“So many individuals have been leaving the cities and other people wished to maneuver to Maine,” mentioned Symonds, now with Re/Max Shoreline in Portland.  “When the market is scorching, there are going to be extra individuals signing up.”

Within the commission-based business, record-high dwelling costs have been a strong lure.

The median worth for a single-family dwelling in Maine was $329,250 in February, a ten.7% enhance from February of final yr, based on knowledge from the Maine Affiliation of Realtors. In some areas of the state, like Cumberland and York counties, the typical was a lot greater – $459,000 and $430,000, respectively.

The excessive costs boosted the median actual property agent wage by 25% in only a yr, from $43,330 in 2020 to $54,330, based on the nationwide affiliation.

It’s production-based revenue, so “the tougher you’re employed, the more cash you make,” McPhail mentioned. “So long as you’ve good self-discipline relating to cash and budgeting, you’ll be able to actually make this work.”

That was a giant a part of the attract for Menard, an agent with Coldwell Banker.

He additionally appreciated having the ability to set his personal schedule. He has two younger children and it permits him to spend extra time along with his household, although he mentioned he in all probability works extra hours than when he was working in an workplace. He’s not involved about whether or not his present tempo is sustainable.

“I feel that it’s sustainable for these keen to do the work,” Menard mentioned. “There’s a view from some individuals entering into the business that it’s a straightforward paycheck. You would possibly get one or two closings fairly simply, however doing that constantly (requires dedication).”

“I can management my very own revenue, which is a very nice bonus,” he mentioned. “If I wish to earn extra, I work extra.”

Demeo, now with Tomazin Goff Realty, an affiliate of the Bean Group, additionally likes being self-reliant.

He began out working in actual property half time however, after a yr, switched to full time. A yr later, he hasn’t seemed again.

“Virtually all the pieces about what I’m doing now in actual property is 180 levels completely different than engineering,” he mentioned. “It was a big threat.”

However Demeo, 35, is comfortable along with his selection. He likes his purchasers, and the power to set his personal schedule permits him to spend extra time along with his household.

Whereas it’s too quickly to say how the increase in actual property brokers would possibly shake out within the quick time period, the expansion amongst youthful professionals like Symonds, Demeo and Menard is probably going to assist maintain the business long run.

The typical Realtor is 56 years previous, based on the nationwide affiliation.

Because the oldest state within the nation, Maine is struggling to draw younger employees to switch the tens of 1000’s of child boomers who’re anticipated to retire within the subsequent few years.

Actual property is not any exception. McPhail mentioned that if there’s going to be a wave of individuals leaving the business, it would seemingly be older licensees who’re prepared and in a position to retire after three years of excessive earnings.

However in contrast to in lots of different industries, in actual property, the youthful workforce seems to be able to take up the mantle.

“We’re going to revitalize our personal subject,” Menard mentioned.

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