Real estate agents are giving up on the industry, as the recession continues to make life tough.

Figures from the Real Estate Institute show 19 per cent of sales agents have dropped out in the past year (ending in April) - which means nearly 4,000 people have left.

President Mike Elford says the bottom line is there has been a dramatic downturn in sales. He says while no one is making the kind of money they once were, those left are still doing alright.