Property pay on the rise

Healthy pay rises have kicked back in for more than 40 per cent of property companies, but only a third are planning to return to the office full-time once restriction ease, according to a new survey by remuneration consultants Avdiev.

Carried out in October, as both the residential and commercial property markets boomed, the survey of companies across the real estate spectrum – from architects to fund managers – found that on average employees enjoyed 3 per cent annual pay increases, almost double the broader wage price index of 1.7 per cent.

The property investment sector offered the largest increases, ranging from 3 to 4 per cent.

“Property sector remuneration is rising well ahead of the broader population’s wages, indicating the industry as a whole has escaped relatively unscathed from the pandemic and is looking forward to reopening with confidence,” said Avdiev Report principal Debra Moloney.

Other key results of the survey also pointed to a brighter outlook for the sector heading into 2022, including that 43 per cent of property companies had resumed full pay increases (11 per cent still had a wage freeze, and 3 per cent cut wages) and that three-quarters of respondents in the two hardest-hit states, NSW and Victoria, said they were doing “well” or “very well”.

Adding to the positivity, 75 per cent of property companies said they were “strongly” or “very strongly” confident the economy would bounce back next year.

Among the key challenges though, the report identified, was finding skilled staff. Almost half of all property companies surveyed said they were experiencing significant staff shortages.

Mark Murphy, managing director of architects Fender Katsalidis, said the firm had amped up its policies and procedures around remuneration and intangible rewards to support and retain staff.

“We’ve increased salaries and undertaken our annual program of promotions, so we’re back on growth format on the back of a real improvement in business projections,” he told The Australian Financial Review.

“There’s improved confidence in all sectors we operate in. We expect a very busy and productive 2022,” he said.

The firm, which employs about 140 people, is also recruiting to fill positions in each of its studios.

This month the firm elevated 11 team members to associate positions.

Mr Murphy said it was more challenging to recruit staff at the moment with the absence of an international talent pool, but that it had continued to take in architecture students and graduates and fill senior roles in readiness for a tight labour market.

While optimism has returned, the majority of property companies have not embraced a return to the office.

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