The real estate industry is reaching a crisis point, with one recruitment agency reporting that the country is short of 3,200 agents.
Director of specialist recruitment agency Buckmaster Hawker, Jeanette Hockney, said there was a continual rise in vacant real estate positions across the country.
“We don’t have sufficient numbers entering the industry to replace those leaving, resulting in many agencies with positions vacant – in some cases for months at a time," she said.
“We were shocked when we ran the numbers last year but 2013’s results were even worse, with 1,400 vacancies for property managers Australia-wide.”
Melbourne had the tightest market with seven per cent of all residential property management positions unfilled, though this was repeated in Sydney and Brisbane.
Ms Hockney said in this environment, experienced and qualified candidates were being snapped up very quickly.
“The other result is higher salaries are being demanded by experienced candidates, particularly property managers. Last year we saw a jump in their market average salary of $5,000. In 2013, we expect this wage inflation to continue – perhaps get worse,” said Ms Hockney.
Director at Real Estate Career Developers Melissa Karatjas told Residential Property Manager the period of vacancy was longer than previously experienced due to a high turnover rate of staff, particularly in property management.
She said part of her work was educating clients on their strategies for retention and ensuring their staff felt like a valued asset to their business. Clients were also being encouraged to consider people from other professions and to provide good quality training.
“We try and encourage our clients to look at people from the service industries - people who come from the likes of hospitality and trade. They’ve generally got some customer service training and it’s a technical knowledge base that they’re lacking, so agencies need to offer the ability to mentor them," she said.
“We’re a people service, so people with good customer service can adapt those skills.”
According to Buckmaster Hawker, many real estate agencies had flat management structures in which there were experienced candidates for every vacancy, but these were no longer sustainable.
The agency has responded by putting in creative structures in their clients’ workplaces.
“We’ve come up with a pod-style structure that recruits junior staff with the right skills, then places them under the wing of a more experienced practitioner,” Ms Hockney said.
“Twenty-seven year-olds in real estate are now experienced veterans, which may sound strange in some industries, but it is the only pragmatic option to ensure agencies have enough staff to cope.”
Despite this difficulty, one real estate franchise has been able to defy the trend.
LJ Hooker Kingston in Tasmania recently advertised a permanent part-time administration assistant position in their local paper and online. The job received more than 300 job applications, with principals Helen and Leigh Henderson needing to pull down further advertising before narrowing down their shortlist to 15 people.