AUSTIN (KXAN) – Since 1957, there have been more real estate agent and broker licenses issued to individuals in Austin than in any other city in the state of Texas except Houston, according to the Texas Real Estate Commission, or TREC, the agency government responsible for real estate licensing and regulation.
Chart illustrating the top ten cities where real estate agent licenses were granted by the Texas Real Estate Commission
In May 2021, Austin resident Caroline Smalley made the decision to leave the corporate world, where she worked in marketing, to start a new career as a real estate agent.
“The biggest appeal to me as a working mom is the flexibility, but it’s not as easy as a lot of people think,” Smalley said.
Smalley explained that the unpredictable nature of the market, working late nights and weekends, as well as having a 100% commission-based career, makes it challenging but rewarding work.
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According to TREC, Smalley is now one of more than 27,000 people in Austin who currently hold an active real estate agent or broker license, according to TREC.
Betty Wangler, another local Austin realtor who began her real estate career in 1982, said the profession has definitely changed.
“Everyone has a friend/neighbor or a friend of a friend who has a real estate license,” Wangler said.
KXAN contacted TREC to learn more about whether Austin’s growing population of licensed real estate agents has impacted the state agency responsible for licensing and regulating the industry.
TREC told KXAN that it has seen a significant increase in license holders statewide in recent years.
“The agency has increased the number of staff members who process applications and increased the number of transactions/services that can be initiated online as a direct result of the increased number of applications and license holders,” according to TREC.
Considering the volume of licensed agents and brokers in Austin, KXAN looked at the real estate market to understand what a market saturated with agents and brokers might mean for current or prospective real estate agents competing for listings in the Austin market.
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According to the Austin Board of Realtors’ Monthly Market Report, there were 902 new residential listings in January 2023 for a total of 1,781 active listings. That’s a report of seven real estate agents for every residential listing on the Austin market.
“It’s a little daunting how many realtors there are out there,” Smalley said.
KXAN looked at TREC licensing data and found that the number of real estate agents in Austin hasn’t always been so “daunting.”
Graph illustrating the number of real estate agent licenses issued in Austin by year from 1986 to 2023
Of the more than 27,000 licenses currently active in Austin, more than 60% were issued in the last 10 years. This is a 150% increase over active licenses issued from 2003 to 2013.
KXAN spoke with Kent Redding, the president-elect of the Austin Board of Realtors, who has also been a licensed real estate agent for the past 20 years and has watched the real estate agent community grow.
“I don’t think it’s disproportionate to the growth of the city or the growth of transactions,” Redding said.
Redding further explained that many licensed real estate agents are part-timers and the field of practice is broad when considering leasing, buying, selling and commercial real estate.
Regardless of the steady increase of licensed real estate agents in Austin, Smalley, Wangler and Redding all told KXAN that their focus is on their clients rather than the number of competitors in the industry.