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Published: 3/20/2011

Ranks of agents grow as recession keeps corporate-job prospects dim

(MINNEAPOLIS) STAR TRIBUNE

Gary Judson, a former marketing executive, is a real-estate agent while pursuing a degree in elementary education. Gary Judson, a former marketing executive, is a real-estate agent while pursuing a degree in elementary education.
MINNEAPOLIS STAR TRIBUNE Enlarge
MINNEAPOLIS -- Gary Judson is a former marketing manager who's getting his master's in elementary education. Now he's selling houses. Or trying.

His new career path is one that many Minnesotans are following. The number of licensed real estate agents in the state fell almost 40 percent from 2005 to 2010, according to the Department of Commerce, but the number of new licensees who joined the Minnesota Association of Realtors during the past three years increased 14 percent.

Many are casualties of the recession who don't want to -- or can't -- return to corporate America.

Mr. Judson, for example, was a marketing executive for a local chain of credit unions who quit to become a stay-at-home dad.

After nearly a decade raising kids, he's simultaneously pursuing a master's degree in elementary education and a career in real estate. With municipal budgets in shambles, the prospects for teaching jobs are dim, so he's pursuing another passion: houses.

He acknowledged that with so much competition for buyers, it's been challenging to get established, especially because he's competing with agents who have been in the business for decades.

Chris Galler, chief executive officer for the Minnesota Association of Realtors, said that historically, 80 percent of all new agents drop out after two years in the business.



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