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18-year-old Realtor follows his family into the real estate business

Gavin Devore
Colleen Reynolds
Gavin Devore, 18, of Bloomington, is the youngest member of the Mid-Illinois Realtors Association.

Many people left their jobs during the Great Resignation, and many industries are still struggling to hire. That’s not necessarily the case in real estate.

The sizzle ignited by low interest rates and increasing demand made it a seller’s market, driving up prices. The attraction to flexible hours and sizable commissions lured even teenagers into the profession, including 18-year-old Gavin Devore of Bloomington.

Illinois lawmakers in 2020 lowered the age to become a real estate agent from 21 to 18. Other requirements include either a high school diploma or GED, plus completion of 75 hours of the pre-license broker course, clear a background check, and then pass the exam. After licensing, 45 hours of post-licensing education is required along with 24 hours of continuing education every two years.

Devore’s parents, Steve and Jessica Devore, started Green Acres Real Estate in Clinton in 2013 and they’ve expanded the business, with a second office in downtown Bloomington.

Devore says his mom urged him to pursue his license while still in high school.

“So my mom was like, ‘As soon as you get your high school diploma, you can become a Realtor.’ So, I’m like, ‘That’s something I want to do. I feel like that’d be really cool; I mean I don’t have a second to lose so I might as well hop into it while I can.’”

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Devore will pursue his nascent real estate career while he attends Illinois State University where he’s majoring in business with an emphasis on entrepreneurial studies. He’s been inspired by watching his mother hustle. She has started five businesses, with Green Acres Real Estate her most successful venture to date. Devore hopes to eventually achieve that level of success.

“She really has a heart for what she does. She really likes helping people and just matching people with the perfect house and having them satisfied. That’s the whole entire goal of the business that she built,” Devore said. “So I thought that was really cool. And she's one of the top 7% in the nation. All these awards. She's been the 2022 Mid-Illinois Association of Realtors president so yeah, I mean all of these accomplishments, and I want to follow.”

So mom Jessica has been his mentor, allowing him to go to open houses and drilling him on what to highlight when showing a house, condo or apartment. As for her best advice? Devore says it was something he’s heard repeatedly.

“The best advice she's given me would probably be whatever you set your mind to you can reach it. Whatever you set your mind to, don’t let anyone say that it's a dumb idea. And so pretty much that's what I live by with everything.”

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects the number of real estate jobs will grow by just 4% over the next decade, slower than the average for all occupations. Despite limited employment growth, about 47,500 openings for real estate brokers and sales agents are projected each year, on average, over the decade due to retirements and people leaving the profession for other jobs.

Illinois home sales in June were also down more than 17% from a year ago and down 8.7% from May. However, the median price was $286,000 in Illinois, up 5.9% from June last year. That’s encouraging for Devore who isn’t deterred by naysayers, including those who say online home-shopping will make real estate agents less important.

Devore believes people still want human interaction when it comes to real estate.

“Yes, sites online really do help, but a Realtor can go out and show you houses in person. Realtors can give you real estate advice. Realtors walk you through the process of buying a house. They stay with you and stick with you till closing. They'll tell you what you need. Basically, I don't see Realtors going away.”

Technology will evolve to enhance the homebuying process, supporting buyers, sellers, and Realtors, according to Devore. He believes that’s why real estate is so attractive to Gen Z'ers, represented by young people who are tech-savvy, digital natives.

Devore is looking forward to brainstorming a potential startup business or smart phone app that can be a go-to option for Realtors. He envisions those plans being supported by his entrepreneurial studies at ISU.

“That's actually what they do in the entrepreneurship major. I heard they had this whole 'Shark Tank' thing where you come up with ideas. That's what being an entrepreneur is all about — coming up with ideas that make life easier.”

While he hasn’t sold his first house yet, Devore is optimistic his first sale is coming, perhaps before he starts the fall semester. Meanwhile, he’s taking time this summer to dream big.

“Maybe one day I could take over the real estate business that my mom has created, or I could start my own business because I feel like I don't want a job that's set for me. I want a job where there are no limits. So I feel like building a business is perfect for that.”

Colleen Reynolds was a correspondent at WGLT. She left the station in 2023.