SINGAPORE: The buoyant property market in the past six months has attracted not just home buyers but also mid-career professionals who have made the switch to become property agents.
Industry watchers said there are about 26,000 housing agents in Singapore and this number is likely to go up to 40,000 if the positive market sentiment continues.
During the lull in 2008, there were less than 20,000 agents. Since February, property agencies are hiring as many as 300 new agents every month.
ERA Asia Pacific said it has about 45 per cent more new hires in the first half this year compared to a year ago.
PropNex is getting about 200 new agents a month on average this year compared to about 165 in the previous boom period in 2007.
One pull factor is the higher commissions from private property sales as property prices continue to climb. Last year, property agents made about S$5,000 per sale last year.
Eugene Lim, associate director, ERA Asia Pacific, said: "There is a transition period, meaning that there is a learning curve. People making career switches tend to be very focused and learn very quickly.
"Once they are on the job and if they do property sales, an average per month is currently about S$6,000 to S$7,000. For private property rental, which some new people start off with, you can get average of S$3,000 to S$4,000 for a deal.
"The slightly more experienced ones will have higher volume because they are more established in the market. It's not uncommon to see a top producer in the company doing in the region of about S$50,000 to S$100,000 a month."
Mohamed Ismail, CEO, PropNex Realty, said: "We had one agent who has been in the airline industry. She was a senior crew for almost 19 years with our national carrier. She felt she might be retrenched and that's what prompted her to come in attend our courses in the month of February and March.
"She started in end-May and in the last 2.5 months, she closed transactions worth about S$87,000.
"If I look at those who are fully committed, even for newbies in the industry, earning an annual income, a conservative estimate of S$60,000 a year, is not a difficult task.
"When I break S$60,000 in 12 parts of a year, it's S$5,000. Imagine for a month of 30 days and the agent serves one client, selling a 4-room HDB house and either downgrading or upgrading to another house will give him a decent commission of S$5,000 to S$7,000."
Property agencies said they are also seeing more professionals with post graduate qualifications joining the industry.
Mr Lim continued: "In 2007, when the country had full employment and market was surging, we attracted people with short-term perspectives. This time, we are attracting quite a number of people who are higher qualified, making a mid-career switch. So they tend to be diploma or degree holders. Some even hold masters degrees."
Overall property sales are on the increase. Transactions of HDB resale flats were up 50 per cent in the second quarter this year compared to the three months before it.
The number of new private homes sold in the second quarter this year was more than the total figure for 2008.
But in a boom period, agencies advise homebuyers to be cautious of rogue agents.
Mr Lim added: "In any business, there will always be rogue agents. This will tend to increase when the transaction volume increase and also when the market is going up. Yes, we do hear of such cases and in-house, we have this policing process."
He said agents who behave badly will either be counselled or have service terminated.
Source: Channel News Asia, 28 July 2009