In the month of February, the National Association of Realtors reports there were roughly 400,000 more realtors affiliated with the national organization than there were homes available on the market.
NAR says the number of agents typically goes up and down with the housing market. They told the Wall Street Journal membership reached 1.37 million in October 2006 before the bubble burst, then dropped to below a million by 2012.
The group says total membership at the end of February was just over 1.448 million realtors, an increase of 5% from a year ago. Meanwhile, the total housing inventory at the end of February was just 1.03 million units.
With those ratios, it’s hard for agents to make money because of how realtors are paid.
“The majority of members do work on a commission structure,” Jessica Lautz, vice president of research at NAR told Marketplace. “So having that inventory is really key. And that is lacking in this environment right now.”
The group estimates there is about a two-month supply of unsold housing given the current demand.
Despite the low inventory, NAR says sales of existing homes, including single-family, townhomes, condominiums and co-ops, were up in February 2021 about 9% higher than a year ago.
"I still expect this year’s sales to be ahead of last year's, and with more COVID-19 vaccinations being distributed and available to larger shares of the population, the nation is on the cusp of returning to a sense of normalcy," said Lawrence Yun, NAR’s chief economist in a written statement.
"Many Americans have been saving money and there's a strong possibility that once the country fully reopens, those reserves will be unleashed on the economy."
Hopefully, that translates into good news for the thousands of new realtors joining the industry.