In a recent article, Melissa Thomas-Garcia reveals her thoughts about selling New Jersey real estate would be a great way to funnel the entrepreneurial energy she used selling crafts and Avon out of her home into a long-term, steady job. “They kept telling us how the market is prime right now, and everyone is making sales and making deals,” said Thomas-Garcia, 28, who lives in Lindenwold, Camden County. “At the time, it seemed perfect.” The housing market in the high cost areas of the US is very difficult.

After doing what she was told last year placing ads, cold-calling potential clients, asking friends and relatives for real estate leads Thomas-Garcia wound up $3,000 in the red with not a sale to her name. So instead of shelling out more money to renew her license, she put her career on hold and took a job at Payless ShoeSource. Thomas-Garcia has learned firsthand why the number of people entering the real estate business in New Jersey last year plummeted faster than sales themselves. In the bonanza years, when newly licensed agents could stir up a bidding war simply by listing a house, people flocked to the industry to make easy money. Now, real estate classes are half-empty and agents are looking for other work until the cycle begins again.

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The number of people getting real estate licenses in 2008 fell by a third, according to state statistics, following a 17% drop in each of the two previous years. “Last year it really dropped off,” said Jeff Snyder of Moorestown, co-owner of RE/MAX of New Jersey. “I think you’re going to see that trend continue.” The number of single-family homes sold in New Jersey dipped 18% in 2008, while the median sales price fell 7.5%, according to the New Jersey Association of Realtors. “People are saying, ‘Wow, I’ve got to get a real job,’” said Richard Leonard, who owns Arcadia Realtors in Roseland. As far as careers go, real estate has a low entry bar.

To get a license in New Jersey, you need to be 18, have a high school diploma, pay a $60 fee and take a 75-hour course that usually runs about $400. A real estate agent then pays additional fees to maintain the license and to get insurance and database access. The Association of Realtors reported a spike in interest with a recent direct mail marketing campaign that helped perform a home-buying survey. Read the remaining article >