Friday, November 16, 2018
Business

Florida added nearly 29,000 new real estate agents in 2015, the most in nine years

Florida might have a short supply of homes for sale, but there's no shortage of people hoping to sell them.

Last year, 28,507 people passed the Florida real estate exam and became licensed sales associates. That's the most in nine years and a whopping 142 percent jump from the low point in 2010.

The dramatic increase gives Florida a total of 221,000 real estate agents, right at the time when many are bemoaning the dearth of homes on the market. A tight inventory means fewer homes to sell and fiercer competition for listings.

That doesn't faze 20-year-old Ashley Williams. On Wednesday, she was among 35 students about to take a practice exam at the Bob Hogue School of Real Estate in St. Petersburg.

"I know it's competitive," she said. "But I'm a competitive person."

Hogue, whose school is one of the state's largest, says enrollment has been steady in the past few years as Florida's housing market recovers from a devastating crash in 2007 and 2008.

But "it certainly isn't like it was in 2005 and 2006, really the boom times when everybody was getting in," he said. "I've seen so many ups and downs, and this strikes me as a more stable increase, which is what I prefer."

Nonetheless, Hogue said, about twice as many people as expected recently signed up for a class in St. Pete Beach. He also is adding locations in Gainesville, Ocala and Venice, in addition to existing sites throughout the greater Tampa Bay area.

At the 2005 peak of Florida's real estate boom, 42,126 people passed the state real estate exam. After the market crashed, the numbers dropped until 2011, when fewer than 12,000 new agents, or sales associates, were licensed.

To become an agent, people must correctly answer at least 75 of the 100 multiple-choice questions on the state test. Last year, 64,925 people took the test, and only 44 percent passed. More than half of the test-takers were repeaters who had previously failed.

At the Hogue school, students pay $295 for a 63-hour course that prepares them for the state exam. But at the end of the course, they must pass the school's test before they move on to the real one.

Williams, who is on her third try with the school test, decided to go into real estate at the encouragement of a Keller Williams agent who spotted her at Marshalls.

"She had seen I was working really hard," said Williams, a part-time cashier. "She introduced me to Keller Williams, and I've spent a lot of time there."

Williams said she's confident she'll pass the Hogue test this time around and go on to pass the state exam. If she succeeds, she wants to make real estate a full-time career.

If so, she'll enter a market flush with agents and short on available homes. As of December, none of the counties in the Tampa Bay area had more than a four-month supply of houses for sale.

Hogue, who has been in business since 1978, said it could take years for inventories to return to normal. That's because so many borrowers — more than 100,000 in the bay area — are still underwater on their mortgages and don't want to put their homes up for sale if they can't at least break even.

"There are still so many people stuck in that spot, it casts a negative pall over the market," Hogue said. "I don't think we're going to see a real strengthening until almost everybody is out of that spot. Then we'll see good, solid, steady real estate activity, but maybe we're looking at another five years."

Contact Susan Taylor Martin at [email protected] or (727) 893-8642. Follow @susanskate.

Comments
Florida's Brightline rail service partners with Sir Richard Branson's Virgin Group, will become Virgin Trains USA

Florida's Brightline rail service partners with Sir Richard Branson's Virgin Group, will become Virgin Trains USA

Brightline, the South Florida train and development company that wants to expand to Tampa, will change its name to Virgin Trains USA after partnering with Sir Richard Branson's Virgin Group.
Published: 11/16/18
Free turkey with flu shot? The best Thanksgiving meal deals: Publix, Walmart, Winn-Dixie and Target

Free turkey with flu shot? The best Thanksgiving meal deals: Publix, Walmart, Winn-Dixie and Target

Every major grocer has some sort of turkey deal this weekend or in the days leading up to Thanksgiving. So, let's break down where you can find the cheapest bird for your friends and family.
Published: 11/16/18
Florida jobless rate drops to 3.4 percent, adds 17,800 jobs

Florida jobless rate drops to 3.4 percent, adds 17,800 jobs

Unemployment continues to fall across the state and the Tampa Bay region holds its own.
Published: 11/16/18
Green Bench Brewing's expansion 'an investment' into St. Petersburg

Green Bench Brewing's expansion 'an investment' into St. Petersburg

Set to open early next year, Green Bench Brewing walks us through the new space and ambitious new projects.
Published: 11/16/18
Longtime Florida Steel CEO Edward Flom of Tampa dies at 88

Longtime Florida Steel CEO Edward Flom of Tampa dies at 88

Under Edward Flom, Florida Steel's 2,300 employees produced reinforcing steel — often just called rebar — for projects from the Sunshine Skyway Bridge to Tropicana Field, plus countless homes.
Published: 11/16/18
Florida just banned indoor vaping. Will you be affected?

Florida just banned indoor vaping. Will you be affected?

Last week, Floridians voted to ban indoor vaping. We want to hear how you expect to be affected.
Published: 11/16/18
Inside the newsroom: Tampa Bay Times project team takes a deep dive inside a notorious Florida death penalty case

Inside the newsroom: Tampa Bay Times project team takes a deep dive inside a notorious Florida death penalty case

A project team at the Tampa Bay Times explores the death penalty in Florida through a notorious 1975 murder case.
Published: 11/16/18
Pasco Business Digest for Nov. 23

Pasco Business Digest for Nov. 23

News and notes on local businesses.
Published: 11/16/18
How do you feel about a $35 million bike path across the new Howard Frankland bridge?

How do you feel about a $35 million bike path across the new Howard Frankland bridge?

The overhaul to the Howard Frankland Bridge includes a bike and pedestrian path. Is it worth it?
Published: 11/16/18
Gulport woman sues Dog Bar over bite

Gulport woman sues Dog Bar over bite

A Gulfport woman is suing St. Petersburg's Dog Bar, saying she was attacked by a dog there in May.
Published: 11/16/18