Why are there fewer estate agent candidates than ever before?

The unprecedented rise in demand for workers, combined with a record fall in candidate availability, means the estate agency sector is going to have to do far more to attract and keep the best staff available, according to the managing director of the one of the UK’s longest-established industry recruitment consultancy firms.

Anthony Hesse from Property Personnel believes that this month’s UK Report on Jobs from accountants KPMG and the Recruitment & Employment Confederation precisely reflects the current crisis in estate agency.

He commented: “Last month, job vacancies in the UK rose to the highest level for almost 24 years, but at the same time, the supply of both permanent and temporary staff fell at the quickest rate on record. As a result, there are estate agents out there asking themselves, ‘where is everybody?’”

Hesse believes that there are five key reasons that have led to the current situation.

Anthony Hesse

He said: “Firstly, many estate agents are having a very successful – even record-breaking – year, with most staff busy, motivated and making good money. Pipelines are large and pay packets are almost guaranteed to be big – so why would they want to walk away?

“Secondly, the pandemic means the economic outlook is uncertain, so most employees do not want to move jobs – especially when they have been in their current job for long enough to have gained some employment protection. Why risk becoming ‘last in, first out’?

“Then there’s the fact that lockdown has given candidates time to readjust their priorities. As estate agency is not a job with typical Monday-Friday, 9-5 hours, a significant number of staff have chosen to leave the sector, often taking a hit in earnings for a better quality of life.

“Plus, increasingly over the past few years, we’ve also seen an exodus of highly experienced agents from traditional high street agency to the self-employed, work-from-anywhere model – driven not only by the potential to earn a significantly larger slice of commission, but also to meet their new work/life balance expectations.

“Finally, many of our clients are currently specifying that an ideal candidate for their vacancy is someone with 12-18 months experience. But we’ve had to point out to them that hardly anyone was recruiting into the business at entry level at this time, so such candidates simply do not exist!

“All of this means that recruiting good quality staff in the future is clearly going to become more challenging than ever. So, employers need to take a good, long, hard look at what their company is offering, to ensure that talented individuals are not only attracted to the profession in the first place, but also want to stay there through the difficult years ahead.”


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  1. jeremy1960

    Try looking for part time staff, almost impossible! 6 weeks and 2 offers made, still no staff, it’s not worth them working better off staying at home and claiming!

  2. Gonzo38

    Or more simply, you are not offering remuneration in line with today’s employment market?

  3. jan - byers

    The salary is not enough

    In 1981 I worked in an office where the negs earned around 25 k a year had a co car petrol all paid

    The inflation calculator makes  25MK IN 1981 86 k in todays money

    There are just many much better paid jobs out there

  4. Burn red tape

    Has anyone thought if excessive red tape has anything to do with people seeking employment else where?

  5. Eyereaderturnedposter12

    I feel there’s a combination of factors here:  
    -A great many seem to have a sense of entitlement to unrealistic levels of compensation, particularly from younger applicants/candidates, who don’t seem to understand the nature of performance related pay. Many of whom have little or no sector experience [I do however have plenty of time for candidates who don’t necessarily have sector specific experience, as some of my best and longest serving staff, came to me with none!]. Perhaps a little too much watching of Youtubers, Netflix and Amazon Prime, packed to the gills with characters who live a very comfortable/ affluent existences, with little in the way of discernible sources of income.  
    -I’m possibly going to sound like a miserable g*t here, but here goes…General work ethics (particularly from British candidates), are really rather low. The Furlough scheme/lockdown has done very little to help this!  
    -The property sector simply doesn’t seem to be as attractive, as it once was. The business of Lettings (in my view and undeservedly) has been quite actively vilified by the media, and special interest groups like Shelter etc. over the years.  
    -As costs increase for both businesses and clients, as well as living costs (and now compounded by increasing inflation…which is not transitory as many CBs have tried to lead us to believe), salaries simply aren’t able to keep pace with these changes.    

    1. jan - byers

      A  lot of truth in what you say.
      Agree that the snowflake generation have an extraordinarily level of entitlement and cannot understand the concept of starting at the bottom of the ladder.

      I do have some younger people working for me who  are great but I have had bad experiences with many more.

      I think the estate agency sector is not attractive as it is just not very well paid.

      I think they are also only used to communication with people  from their own age group and are not comfortable talking to older people

      As I said I had people working for me in 81 who were earning 25k then the equivalent of 86 k in todays money.

      We used to work from 8 am to 8 om with 1 weekend off in 4 and 1 half day in the week.  On that basis it was easy to attract excellent motivated sales people.  They would go out door knocking agents instructions in te evening as our system was whoever introduced the instruction got 1/3 commission when it was sold and the selling neg gpt 2/3.  That ensured everyone was  motivated to get vals/instructiions.

      May I ask what sort of basic and earning you offer? Or what the Industry norm is?

      No problem if you would rather not say of course.

      I read the average salary for a neg is 35k which is not a lot for the long hours /  weekends etc


      1. Eyereaderturnedposter12

        Yes, sadly for every very good member of staff…I’ve probably had 5-7 who either had a limited work ethic, limited integrity and/or simply found the concept of ”a day’s work” to be absolutely alien to them.
        I have always found that the stages of the interviewing process is something of a virtue signalling exercise for entry level/mid-level staff, in which you really learn two things, and that is…whether someone is presentable and good at interview! The rest you tend to glean from the first day or employment, onward.
        In respect of the pay query (and my firm is Home Counties based, albeit London will attract higher basics), this is not so straightforward. The reality of most employment ads at Neg level (which I monitor with some regularity) is that the majority of Agencies list the salary range as the ”basic” to the OTE…Sadly this seems to be something of carrot dangling tactic (I.e. ”Remuneration £16,000- £35,000…meaning the basic is £16,000 [give or take £2k-£3k] and the OTE [Subject to achieving unrealistic target levels] is £35,000!). I always wonder how many actually achieve/exceed OTEs, probably not many.
        I have a lot of candidates come to me, who have been with a national/corporate scale Agency, and explained that they never achieved anything close to the earnings projected (yes, you could say that this is in part down to capability and willingness, but I would also suggest that it is reflective of the tactics i refer to above).
        I suspect that for that out-of-London negs, the average ”basic” for a Neg is between £16,000-£21,000 with commission over and above that of ”X” amount. I would say the true ”average” net earnings for a Neg (making the distinction between London, and elsewhere), is in reality a lot lower than £35k.

        1. jan - byers

          Agree totally.

          I think he real problem is when I was young and new to the industry I had spent my tom,e fro around 16 plus going to pubs where peopkle of al ages went.  Playing in football teams with people of all ages.  I was used to communicating like an adult and had no fear of talking to people.

          I think so many young people now just want to committeeman mt e mail.

          That is not selling.

          Agree also – you find out if a person is any good very soon after they have started.  I usually can tell within a day I think.

          I think the OTE earning most agents quite are just pie in the sky nonsense and not achievable in most cases.

          If the usual salary is less than 35k it is small wonder that good applicant are not interested.

          My mates son has been selling cars for 2 years   –  he will earn over 60k this year

          A young lad who goes to my local has just got a job selling coaches  for a national coach builder- basic 40k – was told at interview if he does not earn 80k by year 2 he will not be good enough and will be gone.

          I build new houses.  Sales staff on a new build scheme by a national housebuilder can earn 50-70k. 5 day week – 10-5 5 – 2 days off a week albeit have to work every weekend.

          As you say rising costs – lower fees – have made the industry unable to compete in terms of salaries.

  6. Hillofwad71

    The worry is  franchisors who are ramping up their recruitment on the back of a frothy market   where many franchisees have enjoyed a decent spell over the last 8 months  the risks are being lost in translation 70+ +failures will testify 
     None more so than  Ewemove  who have gone into overdrive  .Their pitch is highly questionable
    Today on Facebook
    “!If ewe are currently lining the pockets of someone else with your incredible estate agency skills, have you ever thought about how you could increase your income by franchising with us?”
    “Manchester franchises will be snapped up very soon”
    “Well, we will keep this short… ewe will want to head on over to our website where ewe will be able to check availability near you. Make sure you get in quick as areas are selling fast! ”
    ! Its as if they are selling boxes of  fruit !!! Although some of the recent crop have started well there are others yet to get their maiden instruction

  7. gingerninja

    Salaries are far too low. I’ve been in the industry over 15 years, am 43 years old with 2 children and a mortgage to pay, and have a basic salary of £20k which is all well and good when the market is rocking and commission is rolling in, but when things die down it’s not a liveable salary. **** salaries coupled with ridiculous working hours – that’s why people are leaving the industry or not even joining it in the first place, there are lots of jobs with fewer hours, a lot less stress and higher salaries!

    1. jan - byers

      I agree

      I think the real problem is that it is in effect a low skilled job.  I know some do not want to hear that but it is true.

      When I was an agent all I wanted from people I recruited was that they were able to talk to people and prepared to put in the hours.

      The rest is easy to pick up.


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