Top 10 Real Estate Developments of the ’00s: #4

By Brian Summerfield, Online Editor, REALTOR® Magazine

The overview of the top real estate developments of the decade continues with the fourth-ranked item on our list:

#4: The Practitioner Explosion

Most of you are well aware of how crowded this industry has gotten over the past few years. The boom in real estate at the beginning of the 21st century was perceived as something like the Gold Rush of the late 1840s—an ostensibly free-for-all environment that held out the promise of prosperity to anyone who pursued a career in this area.

One incredible indicator of how much the industry grew was NAR’s own membership. Around the start of the ‘00s, NAR had nearly 800,000 members; at its peak during this decade, it had approximately 1.3 million, an increase of well over 50 percent. (It currently has around 1.1 million members, which is still significantly higher than its membership at the start of the decade.)

Observers offered several explanations as to why this was the case. A couple of these revolved around demographics: Some said professionals switched to real estate mid-career because of a lack of fulfillment or job security in their previous roles. Others explained that Generations X and Y were attracted to real estate because of the apparent freedom and flexibility it offered. While these may be partially correct, I’m more inclined to think that they were following the money (and there’s certainly nothing wrong with that).

Rather than offer my own opinion as to whether this trend is ultimately beneficial or detrimental to the industry—because, frankly, I’m not entirely sure—I’d like to get your perspectives on this. Have you seen a significant increase in colleagues and competitors? Do you think this has helped or hurt real estate?

Other Major Real Estate Developments of the Decade

1. Housing Goes Boom and Bust

2. The Fall of Fannie and Freddie

3. Government-Led Recovery

5. Commercial Crash


7. Record Lows in Mortgage Rates


9. Real Estate on TV

10. Going Green

Brian Summerfield

Brian Summerfield is Manager of Business Development and Outreach for NAR Commercial and Global Services. He can be reached at

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  1. It seems the factors may be intertwined.

    Many of the realtors I know love homes, like the direct impact they can have on a family [by assisting them in finding the dream home or dream buyer], and enjoy the quasi-autonomy offered to realtors.

    But the pursuit of job fulfillment or schedule flexibility as prime motivators would have to be predicated upon meeting financial obligations.

    I’d suggest that the surge in earnings potential over the past decade probably opened up opportunity for those so inclined simply by reaching earnings parity with other career choices. This theory would also support the decline in the # of realtors too.

    Either way, the realtors who stick with it are those who are able to balance all of the factors!