There is the worst shortage of estate agency staff in a generation, the UK’s longest-established specialist recruiter has said.
Anthony Hesse, who founded his business Property Personnel in 1988, said that the need to attract the right recruits to estate agency has never been greater.
He said that he expects many to come from outside the sector – with no experience – and that some of these candidates will be the best.
Hesse said: “In estate agency, we have always prioritised attitude over experience.
“And this doesn’t only apply to someone looking for their first job. We regularly place personnel who have never worked in the industry before – many of whom go on to hold positions at managerial level, with some even running their own estate agency businesses.
“In fact, over the past five years, around a third of our placements (31.2%) have had no estate agency background whatsoever.”
He said: “Some of our biggest successes are with people from the world of hospitality – such as those working in hotels, restaurants and conference centres.
“These are people from customer-facing roles, who work long hours, and are used to a demanding clientele who expect a high level of customer service.
“Those who are the right fit for estate agency tend to have excellent inter-personal skills and experience of having to deal with numerous people at the same time, all with their individual competing interests at heart.”
Hesse added: “The agency sector is experiencing the worst staff shortages in a generation at a point when the property market is going through a very challenging time.”
He went on: “A lot of our clients would prefer someone with the right attitude, drive and determination, rather than years of experience, because they are a blank canvas to work with.
“They can also be trained in best practice from the very start and have a commensurate expectation as far as salary is concerned.
“Ultimately, though, it’s about ability – and estate agency is one of the professions where the label ‘no experience necessary’ can genuinely apply.”
The Government has recently announced that it will introduce mandatory qualifications before either estate or letting agents are able to practise.
Hesse said that he did not think a mandatory qualification would “do any harm” but whether it would eradicate rogue agents was highly debatable.
He added: “Also, I think a lot would depend on the content of the syllabus, how relevant it is, and how difficult it is to gain such a qualification. Too easy, and no one would respect it. Too difficult and it might put people off.
“From a recruitment point of view, I’m sure it can only be a positive as I believe a professional qualification would potentially make the business more attractive to talented individuals.”