Latin America

Cuba makes another job legal: real estate agents

Havana, Cuba
Justin Solomon | CNBC

Much attention was given to Cuba's recent decision to allow its athletes to compete for foreign professional teams for the first time since the 1959 Castro revolution. Less noticed was another, and perhaps more important, labor reform: the legalization of real estate agents.

Until now, real estate agents have had to work in the shadows, fearing arrest. When CNBC traveled to Cuba last year, our news crew tried on more than one occasion to speak with individuals who were working on bringing buyers and sellers of homes together. No one returned our calls—presumably because they were afraid to talk to a foreign news crew. (See the embedded video for a more detailed report, from 2012.)

Now, it appears they might be allowed to emerge from the shadows and give a push to a nascent real estate market on the island.

This latest move is one of a series of changes the communist government has made in order to improve dire economic conditions.

Until a few years ago, everyone on the island was supposed to work for the government—from doctors, to farmers, to waitresses and everyone in between. Everyone was, in essence, a government employee. For real estate agents, at least, that appears to have changed.

—By Michelle Caruso-Cabrera. Follow her on Twitter at @MCaruso_Cabrera.