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12 April 2024

Property professionals at the centre of downturn sob story

By Graham Norwood

Not long ago, the United Kingdom property industry was heaving under the weight of its earnings. Bling was in, Ferraris were commonplace, bonuses were huge. Now there's a very different story.

An estimated 32,000 estate agents and 10,000 commercial practitioners have lost their jobs in the past 15 months. Now it appears that salaries have been cut for those still left in the industry. Average income for everyone from surveyors and valuers to agents and administration staff were £53,370 (Dh285,090) per person in early 2008. Now there's a fall – it's not huge, but it's down to £51,180.

It doesn't stop there.

Some 28 per cent of property professionals received no pay rise in 2008 and only 53 per cent expect to receive one in 2009. Fee-earning members of the profession bought in, on average, 10.7 per cent less in 2008 than in 2007. Only 21 per cent of staff have a company car compared to 26 per cent a year ago, and staff are being offered public transport perks instead.

Bonuses, a year ago, averaged £11,130 per person while now they're only £9,465. Some 36 per cent of staff received no bonus at all while a tiny number received huge old-style wedges – this column has already discussed massive pay-outs to senior Knight Frank and Bellway figures, who seem unconcerned at how this might look to those former colleagues now out of work and to the wider public hit by falling house prices.

Now no one can say property professionals are poor, even the majority on slimmer 2009 salaries.

But just once in a while they do deserve sympathy – and this is one of those times.