Q: My husband and I have always liked the Tucson area. We have been thinking about relocating there and starting a real estate business.

Is there information as to how many real estate agents and real estate companies are licensed to do business in the area? On a percentage basis, are those statistics low and therefore the market for agents or companies is underdeveloped?

Before we uproot ourselves we want to do our homework. Can you provide any direction on how to research the market? Thank you

A: It isn’t just the weather that’s hot in Arizona. Real estate is hot there, as well. Retirees and second homeowners have flocked to buy primary and vacation property and developers have built condos and single-family communities that take advantage of the desert’s natural beauty.

As the business of real estate has grown in Arizona, so has the number of real estate agents doing business there.

According to Mary Utley, public information officer for the Arizona Department of Real Estate, the number of real estate agents has boomed in the past five years – but especially in the past 3 months.

In 2000, the Arizona Department of Real Estate had 50,372 licensed real estate agents and brokers operating in the state. By July, 2005, that number had grown to 69,513.

But what’s happened since then has been nothing short of astonishing, according to Utley. As of October 3, 2005, the state had 84,600 licensed agents and brokers, an addition of 15,000 real estate professionals in three months. There are 8,490 real estate businesses licensed in the state.

“The real estate industry in Phoenix is very hot,” Utley said. “The last I heard, the time frame on a resale was 45 minutes to an hour. It’s ridiculous.”

Utley told me the Department doesn’t break out statistics such as how many agents and brokers were actually based in Tucson, but she said that after Phoenix, Tucson was the biggest real estate market.

“It isn’t as though we have too few agents,” she said. “People are seeing the boom and they come in with (great) expectations. But how realistic are they? The reality is not every agent will make his or her first million. Some of them may and some won’t be as successful.”

Utley said the Arizona Department of Real Estate will now be monitoring how many individuals and companies file for a license and how many of those renew in order to get a sense of how many make it in the business.

The tremendous growth Arizona has seen in real estate is mirrored across the country. Clearly, competition is tough.

However, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t pursue your dream of moving to Tucson and going into the real estate business. While the competition is tough, I believe that if you’re good at something, and you’re willing to put in the hours, you’ll be able to establish a foothold for your business and it will thrive.

The way to research the real estate business potential of Tucson, or any city, is to spend some time there talking to the top players in the local real estate market. Get to know neighborhoods, see how quickly homes are selling, and learn who is doing what kind of business.

According to Utley, the Department requires anyone who does any kind of real estate transaction to be licensed, including real estate agents, developers and brokers. The Department’s numbers also include licenses held by camp ground owners and cemetery workers, although she says those numbers are miniscule compared to the number of real estate agents, brokers and developers who are licensed.

Each state has a department or commission that regulates real estate and Arizona is no different. The Arizona Department of Real Estate (www.re.state.az.us/) is the place to go to find out how many agents and brokers are licensed in the state, as well as the answers to your questions about how to get a real estate license in the state.

You can find links to other state’s real estate departments by going to the state website.

Oct. 23, 2005.