Strong real estate market has brokerages beefing up

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Local real estate brokerages are hiring.

ERA Shields has hired more than 20 real estate agents and support staff members in the past year. RE/MAX Properties has added 16 since January. Prudential Rocky Mountain Realtors has bumped its staff from seven agents to nine.

Some of the hires are seasoned real estate professionals simply moving from one brokerage to another. But many are new to the industry.

The reason behind all the hiring activity is simple — the real estate business is strong and it looks like it will continue getting stronger, said Toby Schifsky, director of real estate education for Kaplan Professional Schools.

“We stand at the front door of the industry,” Schifsky said. “And we really started seeing enrollment increase last year.”

Area brokers say that most of Colorado Springs’ real estate agents graduate from Kaplan courses before they get their licenses and move into the market.

Nationally, enrollment in Kaplan’s real estate courses held steady for the past several years with about 40 percent fewer students than were going through the programs at the peak of the real estate market in 2007.

In 2012, declines in student numbers slowed in nearly every state and most began to see increases, though few rebounded as fast as Colorado. Enrollment in the state’s real estate courses climbed almost 30 percent between 2011 and 2012, Schifsky said.

“That’s the largest rise we’ve seen since the early 2000s,” he said.

The market is strong and there is work for new agents, said Eric Estrada, director of business development, marketing and technology for ERA Shields.

“The numbers this year are a huge improvement over what they were previously,” he said. “There’s not a lot of inventory, but we do have a lot of buyers out there looking.”

Jeff Ryder, who leads a team for RE/MAX Properties, brought on three support staff this year and will probably hire one more in the near future.

“I see this as a time when the real estate market has created a lot of opportunity,” he said. “In the last six months we have shifted from a buyer’s market to a seller’s market.”

Ryder lost agents through the slump and has started aggressively adding new agents. But he has hired staff to handle administrative and marketing, saying, “I believe you have to have the infrastructure in place before you can add agents.”

Estrada said most of ERA Shields’ new agents have past careers in other fields and have decided to transition into real estate, many from teaching or customer service.

Schifsky says that’s common. Most Kaplan students come to real estate from other careers, often when they have been laid off. That made the past seven years abnormal. It usually fills up with new agents during downturns, but this slow market didn’t make real estate a good option.

Now that the market is coming back, so are the agents.

Sylvia Jennings at Prudential hired two, both of whom came to her. They left other careers and wanted to get into the market.

“We’ve never recruited,” she said. “But in this case, we saw that business was going to be picking up and it would be helpful to have more hands on deck.”

Prudential has a hands-off management style and agents operate like independent business owners.

“When we’re looking to make that choice to bring someone on, that’s really part of the decision — are they ready to take on that responsibility,” Jennings said.

Joe Clement, broker/owner of RE/MAX Properties, said his office, which has hired 16 people since January, takes a much more hands-on approach than some agencies and offers an internship program that gives new recruits a year of extra guidance and oversight after they start working. Clement said the firm’s education is used as a recruiting tool for new and experienced agents. When agents take continuing education courses through RE/MAX, they are exposed to the office and introduced to company philosophies.

The current class of 12 interns is one of the largest RE/MAX has had in several years, though Clement said he has always tried to limit the class to 15 or 20, no more than 10 percent of the total 205 employees at the firm.

“It’s market-driven, is what it is,” Clement said, “If the market is busy than we’re going to be growing.”


PPAR members

April 2013 2,654
Dec. 2012 2,587
April 2012 2,666
April 2011 2,831
April 2009 3,275
April 2007 3,938
April 2005 3,390
April 2003 2,917

Source: Pikes Peak Association of Realtors