Property Management Skills Shortage

Rachael Jenkins
Property Management is a complex role. It is something that only a Property Manager, or someone who has worked in Property Management fully understands. Even the Principal of an agency often only knows the basics – as generally they begin their real estate career in sales & go on to become Principal without ever having stepped into the Property Management role. 

The Property Management Doctor was born out of this very issue. Despite their always being exceptions to the rule, generally, Property Management departments are often running short on staff, have little time to train new staff, and therefore see a lot of burn out and high staff turnover. 

There has been a call from real estate recruitment specialist, Mark Appleby of Buckmaster Hawkey, that the skills shortage in Property Management is about to become dire, and as a result, the industry is due for a major income spike. Why is this? On one day, major capital cities around the country were reporting hundreds of Property Management job vacancies, and very few candidates available to fill the roles. Click here to read the full story. 




This is something that I, as The Property Management Doctor feel strongly about. Since my early beginnings in Property Management back in 2005, I thought that the training for Property Managers was very minimal. In a course that was approximately 16 days long, just two days were focused on Property Management. Having moved states twice, and therefore having to retrain for different state legislation (something else I find ludicrous), I found this experience replicated throughout at least Australia’s East Coast. 

So, you pay all this money and time to complete a course, and you can come out the other side knowing how to sell a house, but NO IDEA what a typical day in Property Management will entail. Now, I know there is very rarely a “typical day” in Property Management, however I walked into a job with no experience and no idea how to spend my time. My guess is, I am not alone in this experience. 

One of the main issues with a real estate office, is new staff are not hired until it is absolutely necessary. When this happens in Property Management, the current staff are usually so run off their feet, that they have no time to train a new person. A new, inexperienced staff member is left to ‘shadow’ current staff members, and often this is considered their training. It leaves new staff members confused & overwhelmed by their new job, and current staff frustrated that the new staff member isn’t immediately knowledgeable in all aspects of their job. 



So, some of the main troubles with Property Management, as seen by The Property Management Doctor are as follows;

1  Lack of training specific to Property Management
2  Lack of time & structure of on the job training
3  Burn out for overworked PM’s already in the job
4 Disillusion for new PM’s as the realities of the job set in

I feel that a major step of reform that would help the industry to no end is the separation of Sales and Property Management training. Gone are the days when people went into Property Management with the ultimate goal of becoming a Sales Agent. There are many very successful young sales agents, and today, if you want a career in sales, you start in sales. Generally, these types of personalities have NO interest in Property Management. 

Another major change, which is really just one step further that the suggestion above, is changing the training of a PM from a TAFE course (or similar) and turn it into a Traineeship. On the job is really the place to learn the ropes, and for an agency to take on a Trainee, there would need to be a proper structure to follow & overall better training. 

So, how does all this relate back to the increase in wages as discussed in the linked article? Well, the better the training, the more job satisfaction. The more job satisfaction, the better service to clients leading to higher staff retention, and more people wanting to enter the industry in the first place. The more people that enter the workforce, the less need there will be for a major wage increase to keep the industry going. 

Having said that, given the increase in tasks, responsibilities, legal risks etc etc that has come into the industry, I am all for an increase in wages. Did you know that the minimum wage for a real estate receptionist is higher than the minimum wage for a Property Manager? How can this be right? Does anyone else feel that with National Licensing reforms should come a change in Property Management training?