When the market was going gangbusters, real estate was a hot profession. But when the housing market took a nose dive, so did many realtors, with dozens checking out entirely. But now that homes are selling again, there's a renewed interest in becoming a realtor.
Raine Jerke is switching careers at midlife. This long-time musician just finished up his real estate training.
"It's something I've been passionate about for years and I finally decided now is the time, the right time for me and my life and my family. Now is the time," Jerke said.
It also helps that the real estate market is finally, after some tough long years, looking up.
"There's a lot of under contract and sale pending signs going up and they've been bubbling up since May. That is one of the indicators people say, 'Houses are selling around here,'" Cathie Ogdie President-Elect of the Real Estate Association of the Sioux Empire said.
At the peak of the housing market between 2005 and 2007, there were 650 realtors in Sioux Falls. But tough times caused many to drop out or get second jobs to support their families.
"Our numbers are down as far as how many realtors are in the city; we've lost a couple hundred in the last couple of years, so our numbers could go up. If you look at our state our numbers are lower per capita than what your average city has for realtors. We have room for it," Pro-Ed owner Kolby Johnson said.
That's what Johnson is counting on. He started teaching real estate classes to make extra money when the market crashed and ended up buying the school.
"No, no it wasn't recovering at all. So was that a good time to buy a school? Probably not. I'm just a die-hard optimists and I just know that everything with this market, whether it's real estate or financial, everything is cyclical," Johnson said.
Johnson believes the real estate cycle is on its way back up. When he bought the school a year and a half ago, his classes actually got smaller for a while.
"I had a class of one I taught and then I had four or five, basically that five is what we've been averaging the last year and a half. The class Raine went through, we had 12," Johnson said.
Johnson is thrilled his real estate classes have more than doubled, but it's still along way from the numbers before the housing bubble burst.
"Twenty-five to 30 students at a time and they would run them quarterly, so it was the phrase you would have to take the wheel barrow to the bank," Johnson said.
Johnson doesn't see that kind of recovery happening overnight, but he does think that more people looking to switch careers may finally feel confident enough now in the market to go for it.
"I think that flow of traffic into the schools will be a little after this market, so this market continues to keep up and increase; we'll see our classes gradually get bigger," Johnson said.
"We have five different locations here in Sioux Falls for people to take their pre-licensing, so we won't see any one particular area that will be indicator but you're going to see that continue. And I don't think it will be all that long before we see it back at the same numbers," Ogdie said.
Jerke is confident he has the stick-to-itiveness to survive whatever the market sends his way.
"I think the competition will go up and down as the market does, but the strong will survive," Jerke said.
Johnson is trying to make it easier for people who work full-time to get their real estate license by offering half of his course as an at-home study with just a week in the classroom. Pro-Ed classes to become a real estate broker run a little over $1,000 and there are additional fees for licensing tests.