Fewer graduates, an ageing workforce and rising property prices are combining to create a skills shortage in the property sector, according to recruiting firm Hays.

In its quarterly hotspot report, Hays lists valuers, quantity surveyors, leasing executives and residential property managers among the most sought-after professionals in the State — driven by a property market that has grown by nine per cent in the past 12 months.

High demand in the residential, commercial, retail, industrial and health markets has prompted businesses in the sector to forecast that jobs will grow strongly into 2015.

The Real Estate Institute of WA (REIWA) has predicted the median house price in Perth will climb to $600,000 by the end of the year, bolstered by overseas buyers keen to live or invest in WA. Billions of dollars in commercial construction and infrastructure projects are also set to launch in 2015.

Chris Kent, regional director of Hays Property, said valuers topped the list Australia-wide of in-demand property professionals.

“Commercial and residential valuers are sought across Australia due to the ongoing boom, ” Mr Kent said. “But there is a supply shortage as candidates leave the sector in response to low commissions and increasing liability. Not only is there a higher volume of work but fewer graduates are entering the market to replace departing staff.”

Mr Kent said candidates with local knowledge, networks and good contacts were being sought to fill leasing executive positions.

“We are also seeing high demand for quantity surveyors with local knowledge, ” he said.

“The movement of quantity surveyors into the estimating role, where they can achieve higher salaries, continues to play its part in the shortage of available candidates.”

Given the low pay, long hours, demanding tenants and increase in investment properties, residential property managers were also in short supply.

“There is a particular shortage of mid-range candidates at the $55,000 to $65,000 level with between one and three years of experience. In order to retain staff at this level organisations are using training and development incentives, and are also increasing salary packages.”

There were also plenty of positions for experienced residential sales executives and commercial sales executives up for grabs.

Mr Kent said the ageing workforce within the property sector meant existing skill shortages would be further accentuated in coming years.

REIWA president David Airey said good leasing and property managers were always in demand, regardless of market conditions.

“It’s a profession that has a reasonably high rate of turnover, so licensees and agencies are always keen to attract, hire and maintain the best, ” Mr Airey said. “As Perth’s housing stock grows, so too does the need for professional management.

“Remuneration for property managers has improved a lot over the past few years as many residential real estate agencies recognised that their rent rolls are the ‘bread and butter’ of the office, especially when the sales market is flat or declining.”

Property managers and leasing agents with good communication skills, legal knowledge and attention to detail could forge a great career in the property sector, he said.


© The West Australian

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