Quebec's real-estate regulator, the Association des courtiers et agents immobiliers du Quebec, also known as the ACAIQ, reports that the number of agents who sought licenses for 2009 jumped by 1,500. There are now 17,500 licensed agents in Quebec.
What's going on? For one thing, a weak economy may be propelling more people into the industry. The barriers to entry are low. It costs less than $4,000 to enroll in a certified real-estate program. If you study full-time, you can be on the street with a license to practice in less than four months. That can be an attractive option for a laid-off worker seeking a new career path.
The number of real-estate graduates has been climbing steadily for a decade, from about 1,100 in 1997 to more than 2,400 in 2006. No doubt some of those graduates were attracted by the lure of easy money.
The reality is that about 85 per cent of those who graduate stick it out in the business for one year. At the end of five years, only 50 per cent of those graduates are still in the business.
It is only going to get harder.
The ACAIQ is in the process of rewriting the Real Estate Brokerage Act, the legislation which governs the practice of real-estate brokerage in la belle province. Starting as soon as July, it will be harder and take longer to earn that real estate license. Maybe some of those freshly minted agents are signing up now to avoid the heavier training requirements. If history is any indicator, a bigger crop of new agents won't necessarily translate into a larger pool of agents further down the road.