Article: Speak Easy

Who Says Real  Estate Agents  Will Be Out  of a Job? with Michael BoturWho Says Real Estate Agents Will Be Out of a Job? with Michael Botur

Greetings, traveller.

I love BNZ Chief economist Tony Alexander. Forgive the mixed metaphors, but he seems straight-up and down-to-earth while giving sidelong opinions about NZ’s economy. The up-down-sidelong guy comes across as approachable and accessible because he bothers to write to the public. It’s actually extremely weird, when money-politics are usually so tightly controlled, that his newsletter states “The views expressed are my own and do not purport to represent the views of the BNZ.”

The mission statement on his newsletter pledges “To help Kiwi businesspeople and householders make informed financial decisions by discussing the economy and its implications in a language they can understand.”

Oh, it’s understandable alright. No doubt about it: on September 14, Tony wrote that he has been trying to tell real estate agents over the past year “Many of you in the coming year will have to find something else to do” because of a slow-down in the selling of existing dwellings.

“Very soon a very unusually high proportion of dwelling sales will be of new units, not existing ones,” Tony opined. “This means that real estate agents who do not have representation arranged of builders will have a major sales revenue problem.”
It’s hard for me – a lowly content writer – to think up a way to contradict the expertise of a man in charge of a bank with $95bn in total assets (figure from BNZ’s June 30 2017 disclosure sheet). So we’ll go with his opinion, and I’ll add some stats to balance his claims.

As a journalist, I can point you, constant reader, in the direction of some stats about how many people work in jobs affected by the (slightly cooled) real estate market:

• There are over 15000 people with active real estate licences at the moment

• There are almost 1000 more active realtors with their licence than there were this
time last year. So more people are getting into the game.

• Northland has 598 licensees across 42 real estate companies.

Some perspective:
• The construction sector is one of the largest sectors in the economy, employing
171,000 people, which is over 7% of the workforce. It generates $30 billion of gross
revenues annually. I think it’s safe to say people with experience selling houses
could apply those skills to selling other types of property, buildings, land and

• The two big drivers of construction industry growth in New Zealand at the moment
are continuing population growth in Auckland and the after-effects of the
earthquakes in Christchurch and the surrounding Canterbury region. That comes
from the government. So they’re confident.

• All in all, with median house prices having peaked everywhere over the last two years, with small monthly fluctuations, it’s fair to repeat what’s spokesperson said two months ago: the New Zealand property market is in a ‘wait and see’ mode. Our current government wants houses cheaper. Meanwhile its official page giving careers advice to the public describes the chances of getting a job as a real estate agent – deep breath for your final answer – as “average.” Tony Alexander, the 96 billion dollar man, it sort-of right and sort-of wrong. Job prospects for real estate agents could go either way. And even if fewer house sales become an issue in 2018, real estate agents are smart, savvy, optimistic and resourceful people. They’ll find something similar to apply their skills to. 

Michael Botur has published journalism in NZ Herald, Herald on Sunday, Sunday Star-Times and Mana and he writes a lot of fiction. He moved to Whangarei in 2015 and was ecstatic to be able to afford a house here.

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