When I was a new real estate agent, the market was pretty good in Austin, TX. In fact it was well on it's way out of a big slump and I would hear veteran agents say that you can make more money in a down market than a good one. I really thought they were crazy but much later on, I learned that lesson first hand. You see, when times are good in real estate the ranks swell and everyone wants to be a Realtor. According to Gary Keller, co-founder of Keller Williams Realty, agent population is driven by the amount of commission dollars available in a given market. He based this initially on a study he did of the Austin, TX market years ago.
But interestingly, when the market turns south, agents hang on longer than most expect them too. Who know why this happens. Maybe it's a financially supportive spouse, false hope, a second job, a savings account, or just that they've learned to live on much less. But eventually, they will leave and get the "real job". You can see this happening now - NAR lost a lot of members last year. The good news is that when the markets recover and the total commission pie begins to grow again, it takes people a while to catch on and those that stayed in the business all along can really clean up before agents start to flood back in. Ah, so that's what they meant when they said you could make more in a down market. What they really meant is you can make a ton IF you make it through the down market. I came into the industry after those veteran agents had a few years of big big earnings and was in fact sucking off some of the available commission dollars (although, not until someone exposed me to Floyd Wickman's training!). It's because I had the skills to carry me through the next down market that I got the opportunity to experience for myself what those agents told me in the beginning.
Right now there is a huge opportunity for Realtors to reinvent themselves so that when the market recovers, they are well positioned. I though Seth Godin's recent post was a great place to start your wheels turning. So are you going to quit so others can take all the commissions? Or will you commit to become the expert in your town? Will you continue to master your craft, the art of salesmanship?