Korean Real Estate Agents Seek New Income Sources

Flushing at dawn. (Photo by Nick Normal, Creative commons license)

— A Korean real estate agent, Kim (56), eventually got a “second job” since he had had a difficult time closing a deal during the last six months. Kim, who is going to earn money selling beauty products on the side, said: “I have really no choice but to start my second job until the Korean housing market is revitalized.”

— Another Korean, Lee (52), who is a real estate agent in Queens, recently started a part-time job at a clothing store. Lee said: “There are lots of Korean agents just like me who struggle to get through the closing process but fail to make even one transaction during several months.” She added: “To make it worse, the number of rental agreements has been decreasing, encouraging me to get a second job.”

Since the Korean real estate market has weakened, Korean real-estate agents have been trying to find new ways to make a living. (…) The future outlook for the real-estate market is not bright either.

In fact, the number of home sales in the New York area fell sharply during the third quarter. According to data from Douglas Elliman, a U.S. real estate brokerage firm, there were 2,987 home sales in Manhattan, a decrease of 11.3% compared to last year. On the other hand, in Queens, there were 3,672 home sales, which is 5.0% lower than the same period in 2017.

As a result, the amount of commission fees, which is the way real estate agents make their money, is decreasing. According to the survey by NAR (National Association of Realtors), the median income of real estate agents in the U.S. fell to $39,800 in 2017, a decline of 6% compared with the previous year. For a metropolis like New York City, it has been said that the decreasing number of homes sales could lead to reduced income for real estate agents.

While real estate transactions have been shrinking in general, Korean agents in the New York area are losing ground due to the growing competition from other ethnic agents such as Chinese. It has even become a serious concern to a veteran Korean agent who has over a ten-year-career in real estate business.

One of the Korean real estate agents, Kim, who has been working in real estate for more than 10 years said: “As the competition between agencies has been getting intense, things have changed a lot. In the past, the Korean real estate agents could take nearly 3% on a home’s sale price as commission. However, nowadays, as the rule of real-estate market has been broken, Korean agents just get 2% of home’s sale price as commission, so it has made lots of Korean agents leave the business.”

The Korean-American Association of Realtors said there are fewer Korean real estate agents. It mentioned that could lead to a serious crisis if the existing Korean agents leave this industry due to falling income while the influx of young Korean agents is drastically declining at the same time.

On the other hand, the Korean real estate agents who already got a second job said they would do their best to survive the depression of Korean real estate market. Lee mentioned: “I wish I could work only as a real estate agent when the Korean real estate market recovers. Until then, I will use my second job to make more personal connections so that it can help me [in] my first job.”

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