National real estate job prospects are expected to grow over the next eight years, but it is a much different story in Illinois.
According to data provided by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the real estate industry, particularly agents and brokers, should expect a slight 11 percent increase in the number of jobs over the next eight years. The same cannot be said for Illinois.
While Illinois, most notably Chicago and Lake County, is widely recognized as one of the more lucrative destinations for real estate professionals in the country, projections suggest the state is likely to shed a number of jobs over the next four years. Already, the Prairie State has suffered considerable losses in the industry, removing 3,535 traditional and self-employed agent and broker jobs from 2009 to 2013 – Cook County alone lost 1,738 jobs.
Looking ahead, projections, compiled by Economic Modeling Specialists International, show similar declines throughout 2018. Overall, Illinois is expected to lose an additional 2,732 jobs, but the big story is the losses in the Chicagoland area.
Where Have All the Chicagoland Jobs Gone?
In 2012, U.S. News and World Report ranked Chicago and Lake County as two of the highest paying areas for real estate in the country – Chicago coming it at No. 5 with an average annual wage of $83,000 and Lake County topping the list with an average annual wage just above $89,000. Still, despite the apparent success professionals are finding in the local market, demand doesn’t seem to be following suit.
Six counties make up the majority of the Chicagoland area – Cook, DuPage, Kendall, Lake, McHenry and Will – and over the next four years, each are expecting real estate job losses – See our graph on Pg. 2 for the specific numbers!
Looking For An Answer
On paper, it’s hard to immediately rationalize the falling figures – inventory is on the rise and demand remains consistent. To get to the bottom of this mystery, we contacted president of the Mainstreet Organization of Realtors (MORe), Michael Parent.
“What’s changing is that agents are having to redefine their business,” Parent says. “What’s their value? What exactly are they providing? These are the questions agents are going to have to answer in the new world of real estate.”
Ten years ago, when licensing requirements were lax – to put it mildly – the steps to becoming an agent were quick, easy and virtually anyone could do it. “People with no experience or background in real estate were becoming agents and selling houses a week later,” he says. Now, the landscape has completely changed.
Parent says that not only have state regulations and licensing requirements tightened and may further still, which has and will lead to fewer agents, but the role of agents has fundamentally shifted. Instead of providing clients with valuable housing and mortgage data, most of which they can get online, agents are now charged with explaining the relevance of the information as it pertains to their specific situation and area. “We are no longer the data keepers,” he says.