Record number of real estate licenses as supply tightens

The first five months of 2021 have seen an unprecedented number of new real estate agents in the St. Louis metropolitan area. Real estate licenses are being issued at an unusually high rate, even as the number of homes available for agents to sell has gone down.

So far in 2021, there have been over 500 new real estate licenses issued in the St. Louis metropolitan area. By comparison 874 licenses were issued during the entirety of 2020, a number that is on track to be eclipsed this year. The rate of licenses issued has steadily increased since it hit a low-point of 264 in 2009, with fairly dramatic rises in the last few years.

Most of these new licenses were entry-level salesperson licenses, which have a fairly low barrier of entry. Earning a salesperson license does not require any work experience in the industry. You only need to pass two courses and a state examination. There are also the brokers licenses, which require several years of work experience. So far, 499 salespersons licenses and 29 brokers licenses have been issued this year.

This comes at a time when the number of homes on the market in St. Louis is at a historic low. Data from realtor.com shows that in April of this year, there were just under 3,700 active listings in the St. Louis metro area. This is down sharply from April of last year, when there were 6,556 listings.

The realtor.com data also puts the currently low supply in the context of a longer term tightening of the market in St. Louis. When they first started collecting data in July of 2016, there were nearly 12,000 active listings in the region. The number has steadily declined since then, with that trend being exacerbated by the peculiar market of the last year.

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