A matter of courses?
Every company is only as good as its team and one of the biggest challenges now facing agencies is assembling that team.
A family member once advised me, "Surround yourself with good people and this, in turn, will allow you the time to think, develop and enhance the business." If one was to ask agencies what their biggest obstacle is presently, I believe the unanimous response would be the recruitment of qualified surveyors.
Following the downturn, the uptake for property-related courses declined, more than for any other profession. The Society of Chartered Surveyors Ireland confirms that the number of students accepting a place for a degree in Property Economics fell from its 2008 high of between 50 and 60 students to roughly a quarter of that figure in 2012. Similarly, levels fell to an all-time low for diploma courses and masters in property. This resulted in a reduced pool of graduates in 2014 and 2015 - a time when we began to experience an up-lift, coupled with the emergence of new agencies and the expansion of many existing ones. Enrolments are on the up now, but there is still a great need for graduates.
While shopping in a department store last Christmas I was assisted by someone I believed would be the ideal new recruit. Someone we could train through a part-time property course and educate to be a strong sales person and negotiator. But alas, this now isn't an option.
The Property Services Regulatory Authority was established in 2011 with the main function of controlling and regulating property services providers (auctioneers/estate agents, letting agents and management agents). Its remit includes the licensing of all such services providers, the establishment of a complaints system and the setting and enforcement of standards, right through to the management of a compensation fund. The requirements and qualifications to obtain a licence are set forth on psr.ie, but one of the key requirements is a relevant property qualification and experience. As a result, the day of the apprentice is gone, vastly reducing the pool of talent available.
Regulation of our industry was much needed in order to support and develop the profession.
Our profession has received scrutiny but we have worked through a falling market and survived. College didn't teach us about the long hours or the challenges of meeting desired results. However, the feeling when you close a sale for your client and hand the keys over to the purchaser, overshadows all negatives.
I hope we can experience a greater uptake in property-related courses, allowing more time to develop and enhance the business and deliver a professional, transparent and regulated service.
Rowena Quinn is managing partner at Hunters Estate Agent