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PHOTO: Antonia Mercorella says the number of agents leaving may be higher than the data shows. Antonia Mercorella is the Chief Executive Officer at the  REIQ

After years of a booming market, hundreds if not thousands of Queensland real estate agents are leaving the industry as once-skyrocketing property prices continue their slow descent.

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Data from Queensland’s Office of Fair Trading found thousands rushed into the industry as the market ramped up in late 2021.

Those numbers have fallen for the first time, after average house prices peaked late last year.

The most intense real estate markets were in the state’s south-east, with the median house price on the Sunshine and Gold coasts increasing by 40 per cent in 12 months through 2021 and 2022.

But since then, house prices in both regions and in Brisbane have come back more than 10 per cent, according to recent CoreLogic data.

Aerial photo of beach to the hinterland.
The Sunshine Coast market boomed after 2020 but prices have begun to fall slightly.()

Calmer market ‘can be a real slog’

Former Buderim real estate agent Myles Blackwell left the industry in late March, finding a new career as a fly-in, fly-out worker on a mine site in New South Wales.

He sold homes on the Sunshine Coast north of Brisbane for six years and said he knew the market would only boom for a short time.


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Mr Blackwell said while the money was good during the boom, it also meant taking calls day and night on top of a six-day work week.

He said that left little time for his wife Kirsten and two teenage daughters.

Smiling man in light shirt at desk
Myles Blackwell has decided to leave the industry.()

“It’s a service industry heavily driven by your ability to be able to drop everything and service the client’s needs — whether they’re buyers or sellers,” he said.

“You don’t have a lot of time for family and friends and other things.”

The trade-off, he said, was the “excitement in the air” with so many wanting to buy.

But with the slowdown, he said agents were facing more of a battle to list and sell houses, even if the market remained generally healthy as it had on the Sunshine Coast.

“When the times get tough and the houses aren’t selling, and people are holding back, and the affordability becomes unreachable for more people because the interest rates are a lot higher, then it is a real slog.

“Generally speaking you have more properties that can fall over or don’t complete and it takes longer to get the buyers across the line.”

‘Absolute nuts’ market returning to normal

The data suggests Mr Blackwell is not alone.

The Office of Fair Trading figures show that through 2020, the number of Queensland real estate agents ebbed and flowed at about 41,000.

By early 2022 more than 3,500 would-be agents had been awarded real estate licences.

The number of agents peaked at more than 45,000 in October last year. By April, agent numbers dropped back by almost 500 — the first fall in three years.

Man sitting at computer screen
Matt Diesel expects to see more agents leave as the work becomes tougher.()

Matt Diesel was a voice for the real estate industry as Sunshine Coast homes were among the most sought-after in the country.

“We’ve gone from an absolutely nuts market where things have been chaotic, and now we’ve gone back to that normalised market,” he said.

“Things have gone back to normal levels, which is fantastic — it’s manageable again now.”

Mr Diesel said he expected to see more agents leave the industry as the work became tougher.

“Unfortunately the industry always has that perception of being easy money.

“You see a lot of people transition into the industry thinking they’re going to go through and make an absolute fortune, then the reality strikes of what’s actually involved and how hard the industry is.”

More agents likely to leave

But the figures do not tell the whole story, because many will renew or hold on to their real estate licences despite leaving the industry.

Real Estate Institute of Queensland chief executive Antonia Mercorella said any drop in the official number of real estate agents might be an underestimate.

“What we know is that now those levels are at, I would say, 2019 levels,” she said.

“We do tend to see a pattern of behaviour that emerges every now and again when it comes to the real estate profession.”