‘The pie is only so big’ – REIA President Adrian Kelly on job losses in the industry

Real Estate Institute of Australia President Adrian Kelly has played down reports of record job losses in the sector, saying there will always be an opportunity for good agents to do well within the industry.

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Quality, not quantity is shaping real estate employment in the current climate, according to Real Estate Insitute of Australia President Adrian Kelly.

In a week where hybrid real estate agency Purplebricks announced its exit from Australia, News Corp reported that more than 15,000 agents left the industry since the market peaked in 2017.

MyHousingMarket chief economist Andrew Wilson told The Australian the losses were part of an “unprecedented shake-down” in employment within the industry.

Speaking in response to the figures, Mr Kelly told WILLIAMS MEDIA the trend was “not surprising” in the current climate.

“This kind of thing has happened before,” he said.

“What tends to happen when the real estate market is extremely strong and is well publicised is more people decide to sell real estate, because it is not a difficult industry to get into, depending on what state you are in.

“When the sales start to dry up a bit and you have to work much harder to achieve a sale, people start exiting.”

What it means to be a real estate agent was brought into focus last week with the news that Purplebricks would be leaving the Australian market.

The hybrid agency had previously faced criticism for its low-cost model, which many believed was destined to fail.

Mr Kelly said while the business was always going to be a tough sell in Australia, he sympathised with the employees affected by the closure.

“I’m sure those salespeople who are good at what they do will have no trouble,” he said.

Mr Kelly said, if anything, now was a good time to be entering the industry.

“I’ve always found that salespeople are better off joining the industry when the market conditions are a little bit flat,” he said.

“That’s when they really learn how to provide good service and give feedback to the vendors.

“When the market is flying, all you have to do is run a three-week auction campaign, which is not the true experience of being a real estate agent.

“Agents these days probably have a much better long term prospects in the industry.”

Shift in types of roles available

Real estate recruiter Sharon Bennie told WILLIAMS MEDIA housing downturn’s impact on recruitment could be seen in the roles which were available.

“I’m seeing fewer roles in middle to upper management as business owners and Principals step in to be more hands-on in their own businesses and save the cost of salaries at that level,” she said.

“There has been a visible departure of people out of sales roles, but as Mr Kelly stated, that is of no surprise given lower stock levels and reduced earning potential.”

Ms Bennie said roles within project or off-the-plan sales had also been “greatly affected”.

“The downturn of the market coincided with the change in VISA laws around skilled migration, i.e. Real Estate coming off the list,” she said.

“This has been compounded with foreign investment costs, meaning there is not only less staff being recruited in, but there have also been far fewer offshore / Mandarin speaking staff being recruited due to a declining need to cater to offshore buyers.”

By Sean Slatter

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