CNNMoney takes a look at how real estate agents are weathering the downturn in the housing market across the country.

Here it is in a nutshell:

The cornerstone of the whole boom was the real estate license, seen by many as the easy ticket to wealth. Apparently a whole lot fewer people see it that way now.

More than 500,000 licensed real estate agents work in California, according to the state Department of Real Estate. That’s more than 1 for every 52 adults in the state. Many of those came onto the scene when housing prices were going up, up, up. Analysts expect many won’t know what to do if property values continue down. And that holds true for several markets nationwide, the story says:

“In the frenzied market we just came out of, where everything sells so quickly, there were plenty of brokers that were just acting as order takers,” said Pamela Liebman, CEO of Corcoran in New York City. “Now they really need to work hard to sell these properties, and only the people with pricing and negotiating skills are succeeding.”

And those newbies were already struggling to make ends meet:

Real estate is a notoriously difficult industry for newcomers. The NAR reported in 2005 that those who have been in the business for two years or less had an average income of only $12,850 a year. Long-time brokers – those with at least 26 years of experience – had an average of $92,600.

KELLY BENNETT

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