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Earlier this month, RealtyTrac reported that foreclosure filings during June fell to their lowest level since the end of 2006, suggesting that fewer homeowners are having trouble staying current on their house payments.

It’s a welcome change for agents, many of whom had no choice but to turn to distressed properties during the recession. The economic downturn forced thousands of REALTORS® out of the industry, and those who remained had to find a way to stand out. Many of them, like Stockwell, began to work with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, which sells reclaimed Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac properties and then contracts with agents to handle those transactions. Agents also work directly with banks that deal with distressed properties.

Jeremy Peterson, a top-ranking sale agent also from Minnesota, said he benefited from getting a contract with HUD two years ago. “I do a lot of REO contracts,” Peterson says. “I sell Fannie Mae, I sell government homes, and I basically went above and beyond their expectations. … The inventory is still there for the core agents that do a good job.”

Stockwell says it was tough to become one of the few agents to land a coveted spot working with banks. “It is a true blessing to be lucky and good enough to work with many of these clients, considering they have thousands of agents applying and ready to take your place in a second,” he says.

Yet the shift back to traditional sales means easier times for REALTORS®, even though being part of the broader market is more competitive than being a bank’s preferred agent. A healthier market means there are more regular sellers, and that creates “more opportunity for every REALTORS®,” Stockwell says.

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