The estate agency industry is in a staffing dilemma because of the continuing uncertainty over Brexit and its effect on the housing market.
That’s the claim from the founder of the UK’s longest-established estate agency recruitment consultancy.
Property Personnel managing director Anthony Hesse says that uncertainty over the future direction of Brexit is causing more problems for employers than the event itself.
With the future direction of the UK likely to be uncertain until at least October 31 - the latest deadline following the extension of Article 50 - Hesse says: “Uncertainty is the enemy. So whether the UK ends up leaving the EU with a deal, without a deal, or deciding to remain, it’s the not-knowing that is forcing people to sit on their hands. Crucial decisions are being left unmade and anything which extends this period of uncertainty will only exacerbate the situation.”
Hesse says that at the end of last week he had a vacancy from one of his main clients rescinded – and that was directly because of the Brexit delay.
“The truth is, we’re seeing this more and more as estate agencies lose members of staff but are not sure whether to replace them. And I predict that this problem will get worse the longer the Brexit uncertainty drags on.”
He cites last week’s housing market report from the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors which indicated that stock levels on estate agents’ books were close to a record low, and that new enquiries from buyers had diminished for the eighth month in a row with a similar drop in the number of completed sales.
“We had a very good start to the year but now everybody is just waiting. Estate agents are part of this cycle. If vendors start pulling out of deals because they are reluctant to commit, then the market starts to fall and it doesn’t take long for those involved with the process of buying and selling to be hit too” he adds.
“Regardless of whether you voted leave or remain, we can all agree that uncertainty about the UK’s future relationship with Europe is continuing to be a major drag on the housing market. And it’s highly unlikely that market activity will pick up until the situation is resolved. Only then will estate agents be comfortable enough to be able to make significant hiring decisions again.”