For the first time in months, mortgage rates dropped below 7 percent.

It’s just another indicator of where the economy is headed in 2024.

This comes days after the Fed chose to keep interest rates steady. But, that number is still high.

That’s why Triangle home sales have dropped 15.2% from Jan. 1 through November compared to the same timespan in 2022. A dramatic cooldown is forcing many realtors out of the industry and out of a job.

With fewer for sale signs in front of homes and higher interest rates keeping buyers out of the market, realtors are having a tougher time making ends meet.

Morgan Saylor is following in her mother’s path as a real estate broker.

“I saw her passion for helping her clients purchase their forever home,” Saylor said.

She got into the business of buying and selling homes right as the Triangle’s market climbed toward its peak.

“It was a little crazy,” Saylor said.

That’s changed over the last few months.

“Well, you don’t have that many homes to show your buyers, so you’re just waiting for a listing to pop up,” Saylor said.

So Saylor added a part-time job in a property law firm to see her through this slump in home sales.

“To keep up with bills and all those things when closings are not happening every month,” Saylor said.

Mark Parker leads a team of 200 realtors and staff at the Midtown Raleigh office of Coldwell Banker HPW.

“I’ve been doing this for about 25 years, and I’ve never seen such a drastic slowdown in our market,” Parker said. “When the pandemic hit, we had a lot of people who had extra time on their hands so they went out and got their real estate license.”

In 2019, there were 8,689 realtors in the Raleigh region. 2,330 joined their ranks during the pandemic, with the number peaking above 11,000 in 2021. That’s a drop of 6 percent.

In December 2023, 10,389 real estate professionals are working around Raleigh.

“They’ve got to be a lot more creative, work a lot harder to advise their clients on what is going on in today’s market,” Parker said.

Parker said he’s had five agents decide to get out of the business in the last few weeks.

“They’ve gone into survival mode,” he said.

But those who stick it out could see business rebound if mortgage rates trend downward as expected in the new year.

“It seems like we’re gearing up for a great spring market,” Saylor said.

That gives Saylor some hope to return full-time to her real estate career.

“I have quite a few clients I’ve picked up and they can’t wait to buy a home,” she said.

The Raleigh Regional Association of Realtors told WRAL it expects an overall reduction of 3-to-5 percent of its membership in the next year.