Kiwi agents feeling the heat

Auckland's property slump is having a fatal impact on the city's real estate agents.

According to the New Zealand Herald, nearly 700 agents, many of whom work solely on commission, have left the real estate industry since December and agencies predict they will lose more before the housing market picks up.

Real Estate Institute of New Zealand figures show the number of sales staff employed in Auckland fell from 7824 in December last year to 7150 at the beginning of June.

Peter Thompson, Director of Barfoot and Thompson commented: "Some agents had left after going two or three months without a pay cheque. With a family and a mortgage to pay, that's pretty tough".

Auckland has been hit harder than the national average by falling property sales. Residential sales for March, April and May were less than half the number for the same time last year. This leaves agents competing for a much smaller pool of sales.

Real Estate Institute president Murray Cleland observed: "People who went into real estate during the property boom are now realising it is not easy money.

Mr Cleland was not as downbeat as one might expect though: "I don't think it's a bad thing to lose a few people. Those who were just hanging on will disappear and leave it to the people who have the skills to negotiate."

"It's a high-risk business at the best of times. The majority of the industry works on commission."

* The figures

Real estate agents employed in Auckland:

– December 2006: 7434

– June 2007: 7577

–  December 2007: 7824

– May 31, 2008:  7150