The red-hot housing market has achieved a number of milestones this past year. Perhaps the most telling is this: There are more real-estate agents than homes for sale in the U.S.

This phenomenon reflects both the extremely tight supply of homes on the market and how surging prices are persuading tens of thousands more Americans to try their hands at selling real estate.

Michael Mitchell in Boston is one of them. He signed up for a real-estate course in June after being furloughed from a managerial position at a regional restaurant chain. He greeted the new profession enthusiastically, thinking his skills and focus on customer experience developed during 30 years in the restaurant business would be transferable to real estate.

He got his license in October, but has yet to land any deals, as Covid-19-related restrictions are limiting in-person interactions with clients.

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