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Salespeople return to industry

Real estate agents are returning to the industry as the housing market heats up, but numbers are still well below their 2008 peak.

At the end of July, 12,923 real estate agents were active in New Zealand, almost 900 more than at the end of May. In March 2008, the number peaked at 21,734.

Michael Williams, who deals with recruitment inquiries for Barfoot and Thompson, told the Herald on Sunday the agency is always recruiting. But he says there has been a big increase in interest.

The agency offers a five-day course for those wanting to join and usually runs one 12-person course a month. This month, it has three.

He says it can be expensive to become a salesperson. It costs about $3000 to do a course, register and pay licensing fees. On top of that, it will be several months before someone can expect to earn any money. "Some don't make it," he says. New agents need three to six months' worth of income saved.

REINZ data shows there were only 6035 unconditional sales in August, so at least half of the agents licensed made no sales.

O'Sullivan says there are fewer part-timers in the industry now than at the peak of the market because of the extra regulation and costs involved. The increase in agents is slow and steady, rather than a huge influx. "It takes a while to enter the industry," O'Sullivan told the paper. "The course is six weeks if it's done full time and then you have probably another six months' probation period where you're limited in what you can do before you're unleashed on the public. It does mean there are some barriers to entry."

O'Sullivan says some real estate agents never make any money and many are surprised at the level of work required. Some have unrealistic expectations of earnings.

She said anyone who turns their cellphone off at 6.30pm will likely never make any money.

Currently, about 70,000 properties are listed for sale. There were 10,365 new listings last month, a 2.4 per cent lift on the same time last year.

Most of the country's real estate agents are in Auckland, where more than 5000 people hold licences, followed by Canterbury with 1403 and Wellington with just over 1000.  

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