Retraining to prosper post-pandemic

As the fallout from the social distancing measures continues to be felt throughout Australia, the real estate sector is one industry that has been at the forefront of the discussion.

When State Governments around the country banned home opens the industry was effectively forced into a holding pattern. With much of the sector’s income linked to transactions, it was only a matter of time before both jobs and wages started to be directly affected.

Although the COVID-19 crisis has hit the real estate sector hard over the past six weeks, there seems to be some green shoots appearing as restrictions around open homes are easing in most States.   

According to real estate training bodies such as the Real Estate Institute and Buyers Agent Institute, the number of people looking to move into property as a career is increasing as other jobs and sectors remain under pressure for the foreseeable future.

Real Estate jobs and wages

As the initial restrictions were rolled out at a Federal level and only ‘essential’ services were given the green light to function as normal, a host of industries were effectively shut down overnight.

The flow-on effect has seen the number of jobs advertised plummet as the broader economy has been forced to sit on its hands.

The real estate sector was not immune to the slow down in both jobs and the subsequent impact on wages.

Ripehouse Advisory Property Research Analyst, Will Farrell has found that there was a 5-10% fall in real estate jobs across the country on the back of COVID-19.

“According to the latest data from ABS, we have seen a significant drop in both jobs and wages in the real estate sector almost across the board.”

“Since Australia’s 100th recorded case, there’s been declines in jobs of around 5% to 10% across the nation.”

Source: Ripehouse Advisory/ABS
Jobs in the Real Estate industry as an index of the 14th of March, 2020

At the same time, since Australia’s 100th recorded case of COVID-19, wages in real estate have also seen sharp falls.

“In the weeks following the 14th of March, we have observed an increasingly severe reduction in wages. This is an important date as it marks the day that Australia reached 100 coronavirus cases.”

Source: Ripehouse Advisory/ABS
Wages of those employed in the Real Estate industry as an index of the 14th of March, 2020.

Making the move into real estate

Despite the fall in both wages and jobs, the real estate industry continues to be an appealing prospect for many Australian’s who anticipate that the impact of the COVID-19 crisis will be short-term.

REISA Interim General Manager Andrew Shields, notes the sharp increase in enquires for their training programs since the pandemic began.

“At the initial introduction of restriction, we did see quite a number of people making contact with us, in relation to training.”

“Since the announcement of JobKeep and JobSeeker, those numbers have slowed a little bit. Initially, a lot of people thought they had lost their jobs and were looking at their career options and real estate is a great career.”

Mr Shields has also advised that there had been a rise in upskilling within the industry.

“We’re seeing a lot of people finishing off their training in areas such as property management and there’s been a big uplift in that.”

“People are clearly wanting to invest in their careers and upskill to open up other opportunities within the sector at the moment,” said Mr. Shields.

President of the REIV, Leah Calnan has also seen an increase in the number of people looking to move into real estate over the past six weeks.

“I think there is a great opportunity to move away from other customer service industries that have been impacted by COVID-19 and into real estate,” said Ms Calnan.

“We thought this might be the case when the shutdowns started impacting areas like retail and travel, we saw an increase in enquiry levels.”

Leah Calnan is also seeing an increase in people looking to upskill and improve their opportunities for employment within the industry.

“We’ve also seen a number of people looking to gain additional qualifications within the industry while they have time.”

“There might be a small portion of the sales side that look for other options as transactions slow down, but overall people are looking to upskill and keep busy,” said the REIV President.

Moves within the sector

Buyers Agent Institute founder,  Ben Handler has also seen a significant increase in students signing up for his training course as the COVID-19 crisis has continued. 

“I would say for this month to date, there's been a 25% increase,” he said.

According to Mr. Handler new students are looking to retrain from a range of employment situations.

“What I'm seeing is there's three categories of people right now. Firstly,  those who are unemployed, a second group of people who are employed, but they're in a frozen state and on JobKeeper and not really sure what their future looks like.   And finally there are people who are in very secure jobs or running good businesses, and they're just reevaluating their life now.”

Further to this,  Mr. Handler has observed a number of new students deciding to make the switch from real estate agent to buyers agent.

“Since COVID-19  has come about, I've also seen a massive increase in real estate agents moving into the buyer's agent space. That's Australia wide,” said the BAI founder.

Mr Handler projects that as we emerge from the crisis, we will see a strong buyers market transpire.  Real estate professionals are using this time to retrain in preparation to best position themselves post-pandemic.

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