Lettings market helps shore up estate agents amid static sales
IRISH estate agents have retained jobs better than most other business sectors in the downturn, with a burgeoning lettings market shielding the profession from the crash-led mass unemployment experienced by other property-related sectors.
With unemployment running nationally at almost 15pc, the country's two auctioneers' organisations have reported a minimal loss of jobs in the profession at between 10pc and 12pc since 2007 -- despite a paralysed sales market.
The vast majority of practising auctioneers in Ireland are members of one or either professional body.
The Irish Auctioneers and Valuers Institute (IAVI), which represented the majority of auctioneers until it recently merged with the Society of Chartered Surveyors (SCS), showed membership figures at the end of 2010 of 2,070 -- down 12pc on 2007's tally. A spokesman for the SCS said: "Much of this was due to members retiring and also to emigration."
Meantime the Institute of Professional Auctioneers and Valuers (IPAV) which has a largely rural membership of 880 said it had lost 10pc of its members since 2007.
The switch into the fast-growing rental sector which has turned sales agents into letting agents has meant that the estate agency sector has been saved from the worst effects of the property crash which has seen almost half of architects left unemployed at some stage since the downturn and more than 50pc of those in the construction sector losing their jobs in the three-year period to 2010.
Since the crash kicked in in 2008 the numbers of households renting has doubled from 10pc to just over 20pc. In rural areas, a buoyant agricultural land market has also created a hedge against work loss.
In addition, valuations -- increasingly necessary in the cases of stressed sales and disputed sales -- have ensured continued work while bigger city firms in particular have benefited from substantial and lucrative contracts from NAMA.
"Most of the losses were among younger, less experienced, members who left the profession. For those remaining there has been a switch over to lettings on a large scale, with many of those who have not bought homes in the downturn renting instead," said Fintan McNamara of the IPAV.
There has also been a dramatic cutback in young people taking estate agency courses.