Wages are rising and good growth opportunities abound in the property sector, a new salary survey shows, but more needs to be done to bring fresh talent into one of the engine rooms of the economy, according to Ken Morrison, chief executive of the Property Council of Australia.

The latest Avdiev Property Industry Remuneration Report found junior people in property development, architecture and construction were enjoying annual pay rises almost three times those of the general workforce as nearly all participants to the survey reported doing "well or very well".

The survey of property employers and consultants also found that almost a third of property companies were adding new division structures and job types as the pipeline of work, mainly in commercial property, ramped up.

Workers install seating at Carrara Stadium

Boom times: Workers install seating at Carrara Stadium on the Gold Coast for the Commonwealth Games. Dave Hunt


However, it also found a shortage of staff "with desirable skills and attitudes", forcing many property companies to introduce quarterly salary reviews to keep their best talent safe from poachers.

"Overall, the sector is doing well. It's not surprising to see these survey results," said Mr Morrison. But, he said, more needed to done to actively nurture fresh talent and encourage more women into the industry.

"A lot of people have fallen into the property industry by chance. Not a lot of people seek out careers in property," he said. "But when they are working in the sector they find they love it because of the opportunities it offers and because they are well remunerated."

In light of the "Me Too" movement highlighting sexual harassment and assault, the survey found that 75 per cent of property companies had harassment policies and resolution processes to deal with issues fast and early.

Mr Morrison said more work still needed be done to encourage more women into the industry. But, he said, a lot more businesses were taking proactive steps and more female talent was emerging.

The booming employment conditions reported by Avdiev follow the Property Council's latest media campaign Creating for Generations, which pushes the message that the sector is now the country's biggest employer and is also the biggest direct contributor to GDP.

Young people working in development, design and construction are getting the best pay rises.
Young people working in development, design and construction are getting the best pay rises. Louie Douvis

"The speed of property activity is ramping up," said Rita Avdiev, managing director of the Avdiev Group.

"From a slow start in January, companies expect to be flat out till Christmas and beyond. A solid two-year pipeline of work is predicted, most from the commercial sector with foreign fund inflow, asset growth and capital raisings the source.

"Young start-ups are growing, changing strategy, marketing and service delivery. No multiple layers of management impede their decision making."

The latest report shows an analyst working in funds management earned $108,000 on average, and enjoyed a 3 per cent pay increase.

Sydneys Light Rail
Infrastructure work such as Sydney's Light Rail is boosting employment. Louie Douvis

Among those hiring was Sydney-based specialist property and infrastructure manager Freehold Investment Management, which doubled its team to four in the past six months.

Managing director Grant Atchison said the firm was growing the direct property side of the business and sought people with long-standing asset experience. One of the new recruits had been hired from Germany after a referral, he said.

To attract more senior people, Mr Atchison said firms needed to show there was a "real business" with a strong track record. "Getting equity in the business is also a key consideration," he said.

"Our next hires will be more junior people, who we will look to train from the ground up. We're looking for people with a couple of years of experience, rather than someone fresh out of university," he said.

Australian property professionals average remuneration


Source: Originally published by Larry Schlesinger in the Australian Financial Review on March 14, 2018.

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