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Realtor Ranks to Shrink by 20% by 2010

According to one of the latest polls conducted by Inman,

“The number of Realtors in America is almost certain to drop by 20 percent or more by 2010…”

That means that in the next year, 1 out of every 5 REALTORS may no longer be in the real estate business.
While that statistic is pretty scary, you should keep in mind that according to some sources, the number of California Realtors has increased by 60% since 1999.
The reality is that a lot of people SHOULD leave the industry.  I know, I know.  I’m a *greedy* REALTOR and I want the pie all to myself, right?  WRONG! 
I believe that over the last few boom years in real estate, especially in the San Francisco market, too many people dove into the real estate industry because they thought that they could make a quick buck.
And they were right.  2003, 2004, 2005, even 2006 where incredible years for REALTORS.  By the time you got your business cards printed, you likely closed your first few transactions. 
But as is typical in hard times, Darwinism kicks in and we turn back to the concept of survival of the fittest!  No longer can you hang up your San Francisco REALTOR hat (or any other association’s REALTOR hat for that matter!) and expect commission checks to start falling out of the sky!
In fact, in these tougher real estate times (even I’m willing to admit that times are tougher, though real estate IS indeed selling), consumers need to be even pickier about which REALTOR they work with. 
Consumers need a REALTOR that can lead them towards safe and practical decisions – San Francisco real estate ain’t cheap folks, and whether you’re buying or selling a home, you need someone that can provide you with the information you need to make the right decisions, and lead you away from the wrong ones.  If REALTORS are not willing to lead you and be honest with you (whether you want to hear the truth or not), they should get the hell out of the business.
Consumers need a REALTOR that can be their advocate – SF home buyers and sellers need someone that will fight for their best interests, whether that means negotiating fiercely with the other side’s agent or stalking the lender to make sure the financing is on track.  They need a REALTOR that will embrace their clients goals as their own and not stop until they have achieved them (ok, that’s with the assumption that the goals are realistic, but that’s a whole other blog post.)  If REALTORS are not willing to step up and be your advocate and fight (and I mean fight HARD) for you, they should get the hell out of the business.
Consumers need a REALTOR that gives a crap – Seriously, there are a helluva a lot of good real estate agents in San Francisco that care, and I mean TRULY care about their client’s needs and goals.  Those of us that do care don’t try to push you into a purchase you’re not ready to make and try to guide you through the emotional roller coaster that buying or selling a home in today’s market can be.  If REALTORS don’t truly care about YOUR goals and needs, enough to let commission checks slip p through their fingers, they should get the hell out of the business.
Consumers need a REALTOR that never lets you see them sweat – Crap happens in a real estate transaction.  In fact, I usually expect at least one thing to go wrong somewhere during an escrow.  It’s how your REALTOR handles that “something wrong” that lets you know whether they’re good at what they do, or are floating along the real estate river and grasping at tree roots to try to keep from drowning.  Your real estate agent should not be able to keep cool under pressure, and most importantly, keep you cool.  They should diffuse bad situations before they get blown out of proportion.  If REALTORS don’t have the capacity to (or are just not willing to) manage the good, the bad AND the ugly in a real estate transaction, they should get the hell out of the business.
The point is, is that if all SF REALTORS, for that matter ALL REALTORS in general, aren’t willing or able to be held to the above standards, they they should (say it with me folks) get the hell out of the business.
So, I tend to agree with the other respondents to the Inman poll – 20% of REALTORS likely will be leaving the business.  And frankly, it’s the 20% that isn’t willing to lead their clients, can’t be an advocate for their clients, doesn’t give a crap and can’t manage the bad times.  They got into the San Francisco real estate market when they didn’t have to work THAT hard at it to make a living, and now that providing clients with good service isn’t as easy as it used to be, they’re ready to bail. 
But a lot of us aren’t in it for a quick buck, and are committed to our clients for the long haul.  Whether that means working with someone for two years before they are truly ready to buy, working with them through the ups and downs of selling a home in a tough market or providing a first time home buyer with the right guidance to find the right home for them.
As of the beginning of this year, I’ve already seen three SF real estate agents that I personally know leave the industry.  The year is only a week old.  At this rate, it really does seem like Inman readers will be proven right. 
One thing you CAN count on? 
Yours truly won’t be leaving the industry.  I love San Francisco real estate.    In fact, this year, I’ll be working on completing my Certified Residential Specialist designation (just two more classes to go!) and on taking a variety other course that will benefit my clients. 
I love helping people buy and sell homes.  I love that I am able to do something I enjoy so thoroughly, and that I get paid to do it.  But not everyone is cut out to work in this industry.  Not everyone wants to work so hard.  Helping people buy and sell SF Real Estate is at times, utterly exhausting.  And for those that find fullfilment in this crazy business, this career can bring absolute happiness.  For those that don’t, well… they can always go back to their “regular” jobs.