A San Antonio-based Realtor and former Green Beret will be leading a national initiative launched by Keller Williams that seeks to train 30,000 veterans as real estate agents in the next five years.

Levi Rodgers, a U.S. Army Special Forces veteran, will direct the program called KW Military. He said the program, which he said is being offered at no cost to those in the veteran community, will provide the pre-licensing education that Texas and many other states require prospective agents to have before applying for a license.

“Real estate offers an amazing opportunity for veterans to work when they need to work,” Rodgers said. “Whether that’s to close only one house a quarter, or to do what I did and create a wonderful business in real estate.”

Rodgers’ ties to the military and its veterans is apparent upon walking into his Northside office. On a wall is a photograph showing him and his fellow brothers in arms posing at their station in Afghanistan — hours before Rodgers said he was struck by an IED.

Levi Rodgers grazes his hand below a photograph taken just hours before being hit by an IED in Afghanistan.
Levi Rodgers grazes his hand below a photograph taken just hours before being hit by an IED in Afghanistan. Credit: Scott Ball / San Antonio Report

There’s a darkened spot on the wall under the photograph where Rodgers touches every time he enters or leaves the room, or just when he’s having a tough moment, to reflect on his commitment. A real estate agent for the last decade, he believes learning the tools of real estate can transform the lives of veterans and their family members.

Rodgers’ selection to lead KW Military comes as his own business, the Levi Rodgers Real Estate Group, moves under the Keller Williams umbrella. Rodgers founded the group in 2016, four years after he entered the real estate industry. The group employs 126 agents and 19 support staff in San Antonio.

Keller Williams, an Austin-based franchising company for real estate agents, announced its program for veterans on Nov.11, Veteran’s Day. The program, set to roll out in steps across the country, will begin in March, Rodgers said.

Veterans in the program will be routed through the training program called the Keller Williams School of Real Estate, which partners with test prep company Kaplan.

A spokesman for Keller Williams, Darryl Frost, said that scholarships offered by franchisees make it possible for veterans to take part in the program at no cost. Frost added that veterans would also have access to educational modules at no cost that teach how to launch and grow a real estate business.

“Keller Williams leads with their heart. They want to get people into this industry,” Rodgers said.

There is no shortage of real estate agents in the country, who outnumber houses for sale.

In January 2022, there were roughly 1.3 million homes listed for sale nationwide, according to Redfin, and 1.5 million real estate agents, according to the National Association of Realtors.

The association’s figures also show the number of real estate agents has exploded under the pandemic, especially in Texas. The state saw a roughly 9% increase in the number of real estate agents in the last 12 months.

The association’s chief economist, Lawrence Yun, told CNN last summer that it is “very unusual” for the number of agents to outpace the number of homes for sale for a sustained period.

Real estate as an industry is more difficult to break into than it was previously, warned Debra Maltz, an agent at Kuper Sotheby’s International Realty with decades of experience. New agents, she said, “will need guidance. This is not a normal transaction time.”

San Antonio’s housing market has been hot for more than a year now, following trends across the country.

Maynard “Doc” Stephens, a similarly seasoned real estate agent with Keller Williams, echoed the point. “Real estate is a simple business, but it’s a hard business,” he said. “If you’re not on top of your game, you’re going to have difficulty with it.”

But he had words of praise for the training Keller Williams provides. “We take new agents and equip them to succeed,” he said.

Waylon Cunningham covered business and technology for the San Antonio Report.