Where have all the North Shore agents gone?

That's a question that some people may be asking come May 1st of this year, according to a recent Chicago Tribune article on changes in Illinois' broker licensing law that take effect on that date.

Most real estate agents hold only an entry-level salesperson license. The new law eliminates that category of licensing and requires all agents, at a minimum, to become licensed brokers or managing brokers by April 30. Compliance with the law requires completion of additional educational courses and passing a test.

The Tribune reports that "as of March 30 only 35 percent of the 39,219 actively licensed salespeople have transitioned to brokers." Do the math and you'll see that about 25,000 agents were going down to the wire in upgrading their license – if they planned to do it at all.

Agents in Chicago's North Shore communities have historically been older than the average real estate agents, and many of them have gone for long stretches between concluding any deals. One broker told me that, in recent years, 10% of the agents have been responsible for 90% of the completed sales.

It's likely that many agents are looking at the hundreds of dollars they pay annually in dues to Realtor associations, the additional hundreds they pay annual for access to the MLS, and the costs of meeting continuing education requirements and licensing fees, and making a decision to quit a business that isn't yielding them any income.

If a large number of agents drop out of the business come May 1, expect to see a severe impact on the local Realtor associations and the Multiple Listing Service, each of which stand to lose more than a million dollars annually in dues income.

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