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Too many real estate agents?

Posted by Scott Van Voorhis March 7, 2014 10:35 AM

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With listings scarce, we have lots of real estate agents out there chasing the same deals.

With the number of homes for sale down roughly 20 to 30 percent across Greater Boston compared to last March, it's tough out there.

There's a core group of agents who are true professionals and make a comfortable living providing a valuable service.

But they have the misfortune to work in an industry where the barriers to entry are markedly low, with licensing standards in Massachusetts particularly light.

While appraisers have taken their share of abuse over the last few years, they have to spend many more hours in the classroom and out in the field before they are certified.

Inman News contributor and appraiser Hank Miller raises some sharp questions about why real estate agents have such minimal licensing standards compared to many other fields, including barbers and cosmetologists.

You can recover from a bad haircut but a bungled real estate is another thing altogether.

Here's Miller:

The requirements to obtain a real estate license are laughable. To obtain a license to sell real estate in Georgia, one is required to pass a background check, sit and pass a 75-hour prelicense course, then sit a 25-hour post-license course within a year. There are no experience requirements for a salesperson?s license.

What about Massachusetts? Well here's what I wrote a couple years back in my weekly Banker & Tradesman column. Sadly, not much has changed.

Want to be a real estate agent here in Massachusetts? No problem. Park your body in a classroom for a couple days, take a ridiculously easy test, and you're good to go. After a year's worth of tutelage under a veteran agent, you can then take the harder brokers' test.

The 24 hours of classroom instruction would-be real estate agents here in Massachusetts are required to take can be packed into a weekend, and are the third-lowest in the country, according to the Massachusetts Association of Realtors (MAR).

That's a far cry from Texas, where aspiring members of the real estate profession are required to put in 210 hours; or California, where its 135.

This blog is not written or edited by or the Boston Globe.
The author is solely responsible for the content.

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About boston real estate now
Scott Van Voorhis is a freelance writer who specializes in real estate and business issues.

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