Sunday, August 19, 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
Dear Penny: How can I tell my boss to stop making fun of my old car?

Dear Penny: How can I tell my boss to stop making fun of my old car?

Dear Penny,I’m a recent college grad who’s been working an entry-level job for the past year. I only make about $33,000 a year, but I’m doing OK. I’m able to pay my bills without taking on more debt. One of the reasons I’m able to do so is that I dri...
Published: 08/17/18
Updated: 08/19/18
Pinellas commission candidate faced stalking, abuse claims

Pinellas commission candidate faced stalking, abuse claims

ST. PETERSBURG — A political newcomer seeking a Pinellas County Commission seat has faced accusations of physical abuse and stalking from her former fiance, who twice sought court-ordered protection from her.Both allegations came after Democrat Amy K...
Published: 08/17/18
Tampa Bay’s seventh renovated Winn-Dixie opens in Hernando County

Tampa Bay’s seventh renovated Winn-Dixie opens in Hernando County

SPRING HILL — The latest Winn-Dixie remodel opened in Hernando County on Thursday.This marks the seventh remodeled Winn-Dixie parent company Southeastern Grocers has unveiled in Tampa Bay this year. The chain promised renovations following emerging f...
Published: 08/17/18
St. Petersburg ranks No. 39 in U.S. for affordable living, study says

St. Petersburg ranks No. 39 in U.S. for affordable living, study says

ST. PETERSBURG — St. Petersburg is beating the national averages on affordable homeownership, according to a SmartAsset study.The financial technology company ranked 115 of the biggest cities in the U.S., measured by mortgage payments, property taxes...
Published: 08/17/18

Florida unemployment falls to 3.7 percent

Florida’s unemployment rate hit an 11-year low in July. The jobless rate inched down a notch to 3.7 percent, according to state figures released Friday, continuing the state’s 10-month run of a sub-4 percent unemployment rate. "This is one of the big...
Published: 08/17/18
Welfont, KnowBe4, Teami and other Tampa Bay companies rank high in Inc. 5000 list

Welfont, KnowBe4, Teami and other Tampa Bay companies rank high in Inc. 5000 list

While a Wisconsin company that makes software to execute shipments and a trendy cellphone grip company out of Colorado may have taken the top spots in this year’s Inc. 5000 list — Florida still had an impressive showing. Every year, Inc. ranks the 5...
Published: 08/17/18
Wages remain stagnant in Florida despite super low unemployment. What’s going on?

Wages remain stagnant in Florida despite super low unemployment. What’s going on?

It remains our biggest economic enigma: Sluggish wage growth despite low unemployment. In a robust job market, pay rises as the supply of available workers shrinks. At least that’s the way it normally works. This time around, the ingredients appear ...
Published: 08/17/18
Children who lived with smokers are more likely to die of lung disease as adults, study says

Children who lived with smokers are more likely to die of lung disease as adults, study says

Childhood exposure to secondhand smoke is linked to lung disease decades later, according to a study published Thursday by the American Cancer Society.For 22 years, researchers have been following more than 70,000 adults who have never smoked. At the...
Published: 08/17/18
What would it take to overthrow king Publix? Safeway’s Florida exit begs the question.

What would it take to overthrow king Publix? Safeway’s Florida exit begs the question.

LARGO — Everything is on clearance inside Tampa Bay’s only Safeway grocery store. Patio furniture, 40 percent off. Beach chairs, too. Most grocery items are 30 percent off; the entire liquor store is 20 percent off.The discounts will probably get ste...
Published: 08/17/18
Trump asks SEC to look into ditching quarterly filings

Trump asks SEC to look into ditching quarterly filings

NEW YORK — President Donald Trump says he’s asking federal regulators to look into the effectiveness of the quarterly financial reports that publicly traded companies are required to file. In a tweet early Friday, Trump said that after speaking with ...
Published: 08/17/18