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Agency staffing crisis is worst in a generation says recruitment guru

A leading industry recruitment expert says our industry is facing its worst personnel shortage in a generation.

Anthony Hesse, managing director of agency recruitment consultancy Property Personnel, says three proposals need to be enacted to raise standards and attract new people to into the sector.

“We have to recognise that estate agency is currently experiencing the worst staff shortages in a generation. Finding new personnel is difficult because there are not as many people applying for jobs in the sector as there used to be. We desperately need to find a way not only to retain the talent we have, but also to bring staff into the profession who have never even considered estate agency before” he says.


Hesse believed companies need to be more open minded about recruiting trainees from outside the industry. 

“However attractive it may appear to be to employ only those with sector experience, you are in danger of excluding those with excellent potential and transferable skills from other professions” explains Hesse. 

“Just because they haven’t been an estate agent before doesn’t mean they don’t have the makings of an excellent one in the future. So you should widen your search, to bring these people into focus for the first time.”

In addition, he says agency firms need to show staff a clear career path.

“It’s so easy to fall into the trap of recruiting for the moment. But the best employees will be asking themselves what their working life will be like in two, five, even 10 years’ time. So in order to secure their interest, you should outline how you will help recruits develop and realise their potential. This makes sound commercial sense too - as the saying goes, ‘If you want to grow your business, you need to grow your people’.”

Hesse has a further demand of the industry too - that is, to improve working conditions for agents.  

“You should pay your staff what they are worth, not what you think you can get away with. That means recognising and rewarding your high achievers accordingly. But it’s also about the work/life balance – and expecting your staff to work excessively long hours and every Saturday will not only hinder your recruitment, but also make it harder to retain your top talent. Get it wrong, and they’ll walk.”

Hesse says that whilst he recognises estate agency is a service industry, agents need to adapt to current requirements rather than basing their decisions on what used to happen in the past.



He continues: “Good candidates will come away from their interviews with three or four job offers. In days gone by, potential employees seemed to be most persuaded by the type of company car on offer. That no longer seems to be so important any more.

“So if you want to recruit the top people in today’s market, you need to provide them with the support, development, salary and work/life balance that will persuade them that yours is the sort of estate agency they not only want to work for, but also to remain in for some time to come.”

  • Andrew Stanton PROPTECH-PR A Consultancy for Proptech Founders

    I have it on good authority that nearly 40% of those within the property agency are considering changing their company within 12-months, and the average length of time a person who is less in rank than a manager stays in role is 18-months. Also, staffing is the worst since 1975, in terms of 'good staff'. Which is why, most branches/offices are running on skeleton staff, and why tech is taking some of that boring process driven stuff away from front-line earners.

    The digital transformation of the property industry and I am not just talking residential agency, but from planning to built in the real world, to disposal and asset management etc, is happening despite a huge lack of trained personnel in key sectors, the 'work' being diligently handled by AI, machine learning, and multiple applications of big data.

    Real estate, like all commerce is never going to be as it was, and the 'people' heavy offices and branches of past decades are not going to exist. Embrace this concept and march on.

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    It doesn't help that estate agency offers some of the worst work/life balances around. 8.30-6 monday to friday and every other Saturday. That might be ok for single people with no kids but once children come along those sort of hours just arent workable. Not too mention that the pension contribution most agencies offer is just the minimum, as is the holiday entitlement. Alot of companies in the private sector now offer more than that so agencies need to increase their offering to attract the best people. Raising the salaries wouldnt hurt either, as theyve not really moved in over 10 years.

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    Estate Agency is not a 9-5.30 job, Management, Vendors, Tenants everyone EXPECTS you to be available. The Saturday working grinds you down and more often than not; its keys and people that make you want to leave as clients/customers can be so self entitled, rude and obnoxious - that you think life is too short for this, on this salary and these hours. The targets are often so unachievable its not worth the stress. I have friends putting beans on shelves that get paid more than I do!

  • Charlie Lamdin

    The good people are starting up on their own. That’s not a trend that’s going to change.

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    It doesn't help when corporate agents treat their staff like s**t. That is why we set our own business up.

  • Proper Estate Agent

    Perhaps it's because of all the non stop regulation, costs, changes that the government keep putting on agents. If anyone asks me (despite having a profitable business) if they should be an agent , i say don't both, the government hates you and blames you for their housing mess, then if you do make a decent profit, they tax your dividends now too. Back to IT Management for me soon.

  • Ed Mackenzie Smith

    Excellent article.

  • Kieran Ryan

    This is more so in London, where we work long hours, very few sales, so hardly any commission to be earned any more!!
    Another tell tale sign of how bad the market is in London, just hope Mr Johnson & co try and resurrect our Industry.

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    Its the old problem of trying to get Brits to work. Now that Tony Blairs generation all have degrees, they will not do average work, that's what the East Europeans now do for us. But what a fantastic job we have. I never forget starting and was given a desk and a phone and after my dad saying constantly "get off the phone", i was encouraged to make huge numbers of calls, it was fantastic. The office was warm, people come to us to sell, people come to us to buy, we are a match making service, it is so easy. Property is worth millions, what a great industry to learn how to make money, do i need to go into recruitment as well???? The job needs to be sold, sign me up and i will do it for you.


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