Professionals within the property sector in Australia are in short supply as strengthening real estate markets spur greater levels of demand for talent and a combination of low salaries and the intense nature of the work drives candidates toward other industries, a new report states.

In its most recent report on the sector, recruitment outfit Hays says personnel shortages were emerging across a range of roles, creating a situation in which vacancies are becoming more difficult to fill.

“Business activity is strong across Australia’s property market and organisations are adding headcount, with Sydney and Melbourne leading the way,” Hays said in its latest quarterly report. “Many of these roles are permanent, which contrasts to the contract focus of the previous 18 months.

“Given activity, candidate levels have decreased and skilled property candidates are in short supply. This situation is not aided by the number of property professionals who continue to leave the industry due to the intense nature of the work environment and the salaries on offer.”

Hays says growing demand in booming markets such as Melbourne and Brisbane has created a shortage of experienced residential and commercial property managers in those cities, while residential property managers are also in needed in Perth, Adelaide and Darwin as real estate agencies focus upon growing their rent role.

Assistant property managers are also needed in the residential sector amid adoption on the part of some real estate agencies of a shared portfolio structure which sees one senior property manager and two assistants managing over 300 properties as opposed to one manager per 100 properties.

Other areas of demand include:

  • Strata managers to assist with meeting demands associated with growth in strata titled development in capital cities, as well as client sited project managers as many companies take advantage of reduced commercial rents and realise opportunities to relocate in the CBD.
  • Off the plan sales consultants, especially those with foreign language skills, to help meet demands associated with unprecedented levels of foreign investment activity in higher density developments within major CBDs.
  • Business development managers for expanding roles in residential leasing.
  • Residential sales representatives for an active property market
  • Asset managers, as growing investment through real-estate investment trusts has seen an upturn in acquisitions.
  • Property officers with government experience, who are being sought for temporary assignments of typically between three and six months.

Hays’ report comes as confidence within the property sector remains robust notwithstanding an anticipated easing of building activity within the residential sector.

Participants in the latest Property Council of Australia Property Industry Confidence Survey remain optimistic about workload and staffing levels over the next 12 months.

In its report, Hays says employers are looking for experienced candidates with strong technical and communication skills as well as good skills in working with spreadsheets and document management.

In addition, hiring processes are also becoming more thorough and some roles are remaining unfilled for months while employers use sophisticated testing suites.

Candidates, meanwhile, are looking for greater job security and were moving away from short-term project roles to larger projects with a longer-term life cycle (two to three years) and greater levels of employment security, the report said.