Prospective Real Estate Agents are Perplexed by Exam Changes

Florida classrooms are filling with students as the housing market swells but they are being taught outdated material, say instructors.

According to Florida Division of Real Estate data, 42,000 people took the state test needed to become a Realtor this year. This was nearly double the amount of people who took a crack at the exam in 2009, 2010 or 2011, but the vast majority of them fail before they get to list their first home. Only 16,000 test takers earned the sales associate license allowing them to sell homes. However, this is the most this state has seen since 2005 at the peak of the housing bubble.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2012, Florida had the most real estate agents of any state in the country; nearly as many as New York and California combined. During the housing bust thousands of real estate agents let their licenses lapse but with the recent turnaround in the market, the explosion of new agents have some instructors recalling the hectic days of the boom.

The founder of a St. Petersburg-based real-estate school, Bob Hogue said, “[today] everyone’s neighborhoods are seeing sold signs … and all the economic news seems to be that things are improving. “They’re inspired by the fact that investors are buying homes and paying cash. They think there must be something going on, there must be some opportunities here.”

As the market has gained momentum, so too has the interest from agent hopefuls. In October alone, almost 5,000 prospective agents took the sales-associate test; the most that have ever taken it in one-month since 2009, when the state began collecting data.

Changes to the state’s standardized exam are to blame for the high failure rate, say instructors. Students who were directly taught the old test were bewildered by the changes. Prospective agents must put in 63 hours of coursework and score at least 75 out of 100 on the exam.

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