Property staff across Australia remain in reasonable demand despite the housing slowdown as increasing activity in office and industrial sectors drives demand for those with commercial experience and a growing volume of new stock drives demand for occupations such as residential property managers and strata managers.

In its Hays Jobs Report for July to December, recruitment firm Hays says opportunities for skilled candidates across the property sector exist across several areas.

In particular, robust tenant demand for commercial and industrial property is creating demand for leasing managers and property managers in commercial building.

In the residential sector, demand is strong for property managers and strata managers as massive levels of new construction over recent years are leading to significant volumes of new stock needing to be managed.

The latest report comes as data in respect of property sector employment paints a mixed picture.

For those in development and construction, near-record levels of employment throughout Australia’s construction sector (ABS data) indicate that demand for suitably qualified employees in this sector is robust – albeit with the recent slowdown in residential construction obviously impacting staff in that part of the market.

On the leasing and real-estate services side, however, numbers are less encouraging.

On a seasonally adjusted basis, data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics indicates that the number of people employed throughout the ‘rental, hiring and real-estate services’ sector in May came in at 2114,500 – the lowest level on record since the February quarter of 2013.

In ‘property operators and real-estate services’ specifically, employment numbers as at May stood at 168,400 (not seasonally adjusted).

This is down from a near record 176,800 in May last year and slightly down from 169,400 in May 2017.

In particular, demand has softened in parts of the market such as residential sales.

In May, data from the Department of Employment, Skills, Small and Family Business indicates that the number of job vacancies for real estate sales agents stood at 1,753 – down from 1,914 in May 2018 and 2,363 in May 2017.

This is happening as the sales market in residential has softened.

In the June quarter just passed, only 18,104 homes and apartments were taken to auction, according to CoreLogic data.

This compares with 25,824 in the June quarter last year.

In the near term, near term indications of hiring intentions are moderately encouraging.

Of those real-estate with whom Hays spoke for its recent salary survey, 47 percent indicated their intention to increase staff levels in 2019/20, according to the Hays Salary Guide.

As well, respondents to the Property Council of Australia and ANZ’s recent Property Industry Confidence Survey were moderately optimistic in regard to their staffing levels over the next twelve months.

Hotspots of Demand

According to Hays, hot spots of demand are as follows:

Across Australia, commercial vacancy rates in nearly all cities are at an all-time low and rents are increasing as a result, creating demand for Leasing Agents and Commercial Sales Agents.

Strong Commercial Leasing Managers are another area of demand.

Commercial Property Managers are needed in response to turnover and changes in company portfolios. Assistant Commercial Property Managers are also sought by employers who are overcoming the shortage of commercial candidates by considering experienced Property Managers with a residential background.

Commercial Development and Project Managers are in short supply. Most candidates come from a residential background, but employers want people with commercial experience.

Meanwhile, corporate real estate companies are busy, with Lease Administrators in demand.

The industrial market is also growing, with demand evident for Industrial Development Managers, Leasing Agents and Sales Agents. We’re also seeing a requirement for Industrial Asset Managers from agencies as well as larger developers that are bringing this function in-house.

In a localised trend, Queensland’s industrial sector is also seeing high demand for Property Managers.

Retail is an active market, with refurbishments and developments creating demand for highly experienced Centre and Retail Managers.

Retail Property Managers are also sought as centres adapt to meet changing consumer demands.

Experienced and well networked Retail Leasing Executives are required too. This is a high turnover role as candidates consider it to be an entry-level job and will typically progress from agency to in-house roles with major retailers and other asset owners.

Within Queensland’s defence sector, demand will be high for Client-Side Project Managers as defence subcontractors increase their headcount. Client-Side Project Managers who can work on defence and remote housing projects in the Northern Territory are required too.

So are Client-Side Project Managers with fit-out experience as well as those who can work in the government sector where capital works projects are being delivered.

Turning to the residential market, while demand for project marketing Salespeople and Valuers has fallen in response to a crackdown on lending following the Royal Commission into banking, other residential skills remain highly sought after.

With many residential developments in the delivery phase, Development Managers and Assistant Development Managers are still required, provided they have project management experience.

Entry-level candidates with some project exposure are also sought.

Due to the maturation of the sector, experienced Development Directors with experience working on high-end, high-value projects are required too.

With the banking sector tightening lending practices following the Royal Commission, demand has increased for Investment and Portfolio Managers with debt fund modelling skills.

Residential Property Managers are in high demand in response to the need for low and medium density housing and foreign investment. This is another high turnover job function, which creates a continuous need to replace departing staff.

Assistant Residential Property Managers are sought too. Employers look for candidates who can be trained into the role while also performing administration duties.

Strata Managers are in continuous demand for new multi-unit developments. Employers who manage medium to high density portfolios want candidates with high-rise experience due to the complex nature of matters within those assets, however with a shortage of candidates, employers are beginning to consider less experienced candidates.

Assistant Strata Managers are in demand too. Although some strata experience is ideal, candidates with residential property management experience will be considered.

Residential Sales Associates are sought to generate leads for Real Estate Agents.

Project Managers with land subdivision experience are in demand in the development market. So too are skilled Development Managers for estate projects.

Acquisitions Managers are a growing area of demand as employers look to strengthen their project pipeline. Suitable candidates must have a track record of buying and acquiring sites. Employers are unwilling to consider candidates coming from a different background, such as valuations.

Finally, larger property owners have identified industrial and health properties as the focus of future growth. As a result, industrial developers are trying to keep up with demand, which is creating a requirement for industrial feasibility, development and acquisition candidates.

In a new trend, developers now not only require candidates with commercial or industrial project experience but strong acquisition and investment skills too, including joint venture structuring and financial modelling. Such candidates are in short supply.