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(MCT)—When the recession hit and many real estate agents quit the business, Jason Stockwell’s sales kept going up.

His strategy was basic: Follow the market. He started with traditional deals but quickly shifted to short sales and foreclosures when the industry began to slump.

“I’ve never had a year that I haven’t improved,” said Stockwell, 35, who has been a REALTOR® for nine years. “What I’ve done … is always focus on what’s going on. If I see short sales going on, I go for them. If I see REOs (real estate-owned properties), I try to get them.”

Now Stockwell, who was recently named the top-selling REALTOR® in Minnesota for 2012 by an industry trend report, is shifting his strategy again. He’s turning his attention back to traditional sales as the market moves away from distressed properties and regular homeowners are in a position to sell. It’s a key switch being seen by REALTORS® nationwide, and could ultimately bolster a profession that took a major beating during the recession.

Like Stockwell, who sold more than 300 properties worth a total of $41 million last year, many agents have spent the past few years focusing on distressed sales, but are adjusting as the market quickly changes course. “We were probably about 72 percent distressed properties last year, and now we’re about 50-50,” says Kimm Pastrana, another top-selling Minnesota agent. “And we expect that to continue to decline throughout the year.”

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