Estate agency bosses told: Pay staff what they’re worth, not what you think you can get away with

An expert in estate agency recruitment has called for bosses to be more open minded about hiring people from outside the industry – and giving staff more pay, and a better work/life balance.

Anthony Hesse, managing director of Property Personnel, said bosses should stop paying people “what they think they can get away with”.

He also warned that today’s staff simply won’t tolerate a long hours culture plus weekend working.

Hesse said: “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.

“So 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.

“My first suggestion is 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.

“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.

“Secondly, you need to make sure you show new employees 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 ten 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’.

“Finally, you must get their working conditions right. Whilst it’s not all about salaries, they are still important. So 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.”



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  1. AgencyInsider

    The majority of estate agency bosses are most likely 40+ years old. They are already light-years removed from the attitudes and expectations of those in their late teens and twenties now coming into Agency.

    A long time ago they could get away with thinking ‘In my day we worked all the hours god sent and got paid a pittance. If I could do it, so can they.’

    Hesse is spot on. That attitude cannot be sustained today.

    1. surrey1

      They probably worked all the hours God sent, but got paid rather better for it. I sense wages in Agency have made little progress over the past 12 years for the majority.

  2. JEL

    I’d love to pay staff a decent amount but for that to happen the commissions need to increase dramatically…. how is it possible to pay staff a reasonable basic and incentivise them with a bonus on fees, in our area dragged down regularity to 0.65%…. it’s very depressing. I don’t blame the likes of PB as has been stated many times, they only seem to have a couple of properties in each area so hardly mentioned, it’s fellow high street agents…. it’s not clever to keep cutting your fees, it’s stupid

  3. Property Pundit

    We have to recognise that estate agency is currently experiencing the worst staff shortages in a generation

    No Mr Hesse, like JEL says above, we have to recognise that estate agency is currently experiencing the worst bout of fee-cutting there has ever been. Until this trait is reversed, salary levels will always be under pressure.

  4. NotAdoctor32

    Only you can cut your fees.  If you can’t show your true value to a vendor and command a decent fee then you need to re-evaluate.  If you aren’t actually better then you need to work on being so.  In every aspect of business.

    1. SE

      Well said!!

  5. Anonymous Coward

    I remember in the ’90s being paid very well but I regularly worked 6 days a week and probably 65 hours. Since then the number of agency branches has doubled (vaguely remembered RM stats from a couple of years ago). At the same time as house prices rising the number of properties actually being sold has fallen significantly.
    In 1999 I charged 2% sole agency, 3% multi.   Last multi agency I agreed was less than 1%.   Sole agency regularly 0.75%.
    Average UK sale price December 1999 £75,071.
    Number of sales (in the 12 month period prior) 1,129,428.
    At 2% total commission £1.70 billion (roughly).
    Average in July 2019 (most reliable LR data) £249,336 an increase of 232% in value.
    Number of sales (in the 12 month period prior) 809,987 a 28% decrease in volume.
    At 0.75% total commission £1.51 billion (roughly).
    At 1% it’s just over £2 billion.
    Now I know some areas charge different commissions but I wonder now if 0.75% is the new normal for a large percentage of the country now…?   Also, where average values are below £250,000 that the higher percentage fee charge just averages it all out anyway.
    If the number of agencies has doubled that means that less money is being spread twice as far. An obvious recipe for disaster and why I left the industry.

    1. Property Pundit

      Great but depressing stats there. Yet fees will still be cut further.


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