I've refrained from calling the current surge in Chicago real estate activity a boom...until now. I just read an article the other day about how the number of real estate agents in Chicago is on the rise and if that's not an indication of a real estate boom I don't know what is.
During the height of the real estate bubble every doorman, bar tender, and tax driver became a real estate agent so they would have a ticket to earn the outrageous commissions from friends, family, and casual acquaintances. Life was easy back then with lower licensing standards, high volumes, quick sales, easy price negotiations, and easy money. And of course, as I've pointed out on numerous occasions, any new licensee can get a job at any of the brokerages who hire them because they represent incremental income for the brokerage. Flash forward a few years and we're almost back to those golden days, though the licensing standards are a tad more rigorous (but not much more) and money isn't exactly easy.
Since I got into this business 6 years ago I've been tracking the Chicago Association of Realtors and watching the membership slowly decline. According to the article above membership has dropped by a total of 40% over the last 5 years, which is consistent with my own numbers. And the consensus is that it's the weaker players that have been dropping out, which is good for consumers. After all, if a realtor's only qualifications are that they seem like a nice person and you know them then they really don't add a lot of value.
So apparently the tide has decidedly turned in the last 6 months and now the Chicago Association of Realtors membership is actually growing one again by as much as 100 people per month, all fresh out of the licensing courses. It's Deja Vu all over again.
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