Salary boom shines on commercial property staff

Savills’ new office space in Sydney.

Salaries in the booming property industry are rising faster than the weak wage growth seen across the broader economy and could continue to climb, with the most junior staff in high demand. 

Amid a building boom and spiralling growth in prices for residential and commercial real estate, retaining staff has proved a challenge, according to the Avdiev Property Industry Remuneration Report.

Junior staff — often mobile and tech-savvy — enjoyed a ­median pay rise of 3% over the year to September, while mid-level salaries rose 2.6% and senior positions gained a 2.7% increase.

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“It’s getting better all the time, but good times bring with them talent shortages, headhunter attacks on desirable recruits with outrageous offers to move,” said Rita Avdiev, the managing director of remuneration consultants the Avdiev Group.

Survey respondents had been warding off headhunters with counter offers and one-off bonuses to stay, while suitors were paying a premium for new hires and offering sign-on bonuses.

Companies had been trying to attract more women and were ­offering flexible work arrangements, but gender pay equity was still elusive for many women, the report found.

The reports of a war for talent in the property industry contrast with sluggish wage growth in the broader economy that has worried the Reserve Bank. Wages rose an average of 1.9% across Australia in the year to the June quarter.

Property industry salaries

The strong property salary gains could be set to continue, with building and construction workers in NSW highlighted as particular targets.

Only 5% of respondents in the survey said they were worse off than a year ago.

Among property professionals, wage growth was strongest on average for assistant property/facilities managers working in real estate agencies, who reported 4% median remuneration rises to an average of $70,000 in the year to September.

Growth was also strong in the property funds management sector, with portfolio managers of greater than $500 million reporting a 3.6% median pay rise to $264,000.

Pay rises of up to 12% over the year were reported in the survey.

Conditions even looked buoyant for staff in the challenged retail property sector, despite concerns about the growth of online commerce and weak wage growth that has been causing consumers to close their wallets.

Leasing managers of retail property enjoyed 3.6% pay rises to an average of $182,000, the report found.

Salaries for assistant property development managers rose 3.1% to $92,000, with some staff enjoying a jump of up to 16 per cent.

Senior project managers working in corporate real estate got a 2.6% pay rise to $166,000 and project managers in building, design and construction saw a 2.5% rise to $188,000.

Pay for project/design architects rose 2.3% to $87,000 and in the retirement living industry the role of general manager of village operations saw a 2% to $258,000.

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