Skills shortages, snapback recovery underpins property pay rise

Photo: Warren Goldswain
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PROPERTY sector wages are outpacing the broader population for growth, according to the latest Avdiev Property Industry Remuneration Report, while a majority of property companies are reporting strong performances despite the challenges of the pandemic.

The latest Pulse Survey Update shows most recent round of property sector remuneration reviews resulted in pay increases of 3% on average, well ahead of Australia’s wage price index at 1.7%.

Asset managers with over $500 million assets under management are taking home $270,000 each year, enjoying a 3.0% median increase to September, and can look forward to another 3.0% increase over the next 12 months.

Real estate agents ($120,000 each year) are the only other property profession enjoying the same patch of growth, while property development managers ($205,095) are set for a 3.0% increase after 2.5% wages growth in the past year.

However, property sector wages growth overall will not be as strong in the coming 12 months. Property upgrades managers in the retirement living and aged care sectors ($111,348), sustainability analysts ($95,000) and mid-level project managers for design and building consultants ($115,000), will see less than the 3.0% increases enjoyed over the past 12 months. While the former pair will still see 2.5% increases, the latter will drop to 1.5% growth.

“Property sector remuneration is rising well ahead of the broader population’s wages, indicating the industry as a whole has escaped relatively unscathed from the pandemic and is looking forward to reopening with confidence,” said Debra Moloney, Principal of remuneration consultants Avdiev Report.

Assistant retail centre managers saw a 2.8% lift to $76,600 with a 2.0% increase ahead, and building, design and construction contracts managers’ wages grew 2.3% to $189,800 with a 2.4% increase ahead.

Less than half – 43% – of property companies have resumed full pay increases, while 18% have offered higher-than-usual pay increases to make up for stalled pay of pandemic-ravaged 2020. Just over one in ten still had a wage freeze, and 3% cut wages.

The property investment sector offered the largest increases, ranging from 3% to 4%.

In the next round of pay reviews, almost two-thirds of companies expect to again pay the usual full increase and 30% expect just a minimal increase.

Property companies are also paying bonuses, with 63% expecting to pay their usual short-term incentives this year and 6% expecting an increased STI.

More than three-quarters of the companies surveyed are adding the superannuation increase to total remuneration, effectively delivering a built-in 2.5% pay rise over the next five years.

Positive outlook

Once health restrictions ease, 76% of companies surveyed have “strong” or “very strong” confidence in a business and economic “bounce back”.

States that endured the toughest lockdowns are also confident about their performance – 79% of NSW companies and 73% of Victoria companies said they are doing “well” or “very well”.

In the states that have been impacted less by COVID, 29% of Western Australian property companies and 24% in Queensland are doing better than prior to COVID-19, 86% of WA companies said they are doing “well” or “very well”.

Three quarters 75% of property companies are ‘strongly’ or ‘very strongly’ confident the economy will bounce back.

Property sector wages are increasing significantly faster than the general workforce. The results suggest a tight labour market, with nearly half, 49%, experiencing a skills shortage.

Some sector saw high staff turnover.

Most staff in the property industry shifted to working-from-home, and it is expected to continue with 54% of companies surveyed planning a hybrid arrangement. One-third will return to the office full time.

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