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Australia’s property manager shortage — why it’s happening and how we can fix it

By Tom Wallace
04 October 2022 | 10 minute read
Tom Wallace reb

The COVID-19 pandemic had a profound impact on everyone in the property industry — and property managers were no exception.

The onslaught of challenges and constantly changing regulations left the property industry and its outdated systems and technology struggling to keep up. The disruption resulted in a massive shift in the workforce, with vacancies in the real estate sector alone increasing by over 80 per cent during 2021.

In early 2021, the Real Estate Institute of Victoria estimated that a third of Victoria’s property managers had left the industry in the year prior. The Real Estate Institute of Australia recently called upon the federal government to take action to address the ongoing shortage of property managers, noting that some 3,000 roles were being offered on Seek alone.

Unfortunately, the problem isn’t going away. A recent report by MRI Software found that a quarter of property managers surveyed intended to leave their jobs and the industry as a whole, a figure twice as high as that recorded in 2018.

Property managers are still dealing with the ongoing effects of the pandemic, with vacancy rates still elevated across the retail and office sectors. Vacancy rates in central business district office markets have risen in Melbourne and Sydney, as the supply of new space outruns demand. It is crucial for property managers to be supported in dealing with the challenges that come with such a variable market.

So, why are property managers leaving the industry in droves? Some of the main reasons are as follows:

  • Stress – Many property managers struggle with the mental strain of a large and complex workload, finding it difficult to switch off, particularly after hours.
  • Difficult landlords and tenants – With plenty of people stuck at home and out of work during the pandemic, property managers were too often subject to the heightened emotions of people trying to navigate trying times.
  • Inefficient systems – Many property managers struggle to manage their extensive portfolios due to a lack of support, inefficient systems, and outdated software.
  • Lack of human connection – Widespread lockdowns meant property managers were no longer interacting with people on a day-to-day basis, removing an enjoyable and integral element of their job.

To address the concerning shortage of property managers, it is vitally important to tackle these issues and ensure people feel supported in their jobs. Property managers need to be armed with all the necessary tools to manage their workload and stress levels effectively.

One way to make a property manager’s job easier is to utilise software and technology that is up to date and caters specifically to their needs. With an often-extensive portfolio, property managers are dealing with countless tenants and landlords, each with their own needs and deadlines. To provide optimal outcomes for property managers and, therefore, their clients, the importance of property management software cannot be overstated. Utilising carefully designed property management software can drastically improve efficiency and automate workflows, reducing human error and time spent on tedious tasks and administration. Integrating technology in a considered way can alleviate many stressors for property managers and streamline their workflow.

Property managers should also be encouraged to connect and collaborate with each other and the wider industry to regain the sense of connection lost in the turbulence of the past couple of years. Property managers should be supported in reaching out to one another and be given easy access to networking and industry events. Facilitating opportunities for property managers to communicate with like-minded people will allow them to make connections and learn helpful tips and tricks to deal with difficult situations.

There is no quick fix for the shortage of property managers and the issues they are facing. However, ensuring property managers feel supported in their roles and empowered with up-to-date technology will go a long way towards fixing the problem and attracting others to the industry.

Tom Wallace is the chief executive of Re-Leased.

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