To date in the current fiscal year, an average of 322 people are granted real estate licenses, she said.
Local real estate schools also have seen the increased interest.
“Since things tanked, it’s started to pick up, but it’s nothing like before,” said Jenny Hogan, of the Hogan School of Real Estate, 4023 E. Grant Road.
Hogan said the changing tone of media reports about the real estate market, as the economy improves, seems to have helped spark renewed interest among some people.
The total number of real estate licenses in the state – including active, inactive and those in the one-year grace period before licenses expire – stands at slightly more than 85,000. The figure represents a considerable decline from 2007 and 2008, when the number of people licensed to sell real estate in Arizona nearly reached 100,000.
The increase in real estate licensees, predictably, tracked the heating up of the market in the state. As real estate speculation increased and home values climbed in the early 2000s, the number of licensees grew.
In 2003, for example, fewer than 70,000 people held real estate licenses in the state.
“When the real estate market was hot everyone wanted to get into it,” said Hank Amos, president and chairman of Tucson Realty & Trust Co.
Amos said it’s typical to see an influx of people getting into the real estate market when it looks like there’s easy money to be made and getting out when times get tough.
Similar trends happened in the mid- to late-1980s and again around 2000 and 2001, he said.
“You see people drop out and that’s the norm, and it’s always been that way,” Amos said.
The trend appears to be the same today, Lowe said, pointing to the number of people allowing their licenses to lapse.
“In that group, we’re losing about 700 people per month,” she said.
Many of those licensees have simply retired, Lowe said, describing the industry as “maturing.” Many other people, however, have left real estate for different careers.
In addition, the state has instituted some more stringent licensing rules in recent years.
For example, licensees require 90 hours of classroom training before taking licensing exams and have to be cleared through fingerprinting.
Also, the exams have gotten more difficult and comprehensive, Lowe said.
“The industry has changed so much that the education has to be more comprehensive than it’s ever been,” she said. “We like to think that the bar for being in the real estate business in Arizona has been raised.”