Printer Friendly

Hey brother, can you spare a job?

Hey brother, can you spare a job?

The real estate job market is not healthy and no one is optimistic that the situation will change in the near future.

Breakups and mergers of companies have led to the downsizing of staffs and some recruiters and sales professionals admit they are only in business because their competitors are not. The bank merger trend is also causing waves of unemployment as staffs are expected to be cut further in overlapping areas such as mortgages, legal, and administrative divisions. The lack of bank financing has also depressed the construction industry which is struggling to stay afloat. There is, however, a proliferation of workout and bankruptcy specialists as well as a need for skilled professionals in the building management and commissioned sales and rental fields.

Martin D. Nass, managing partner of the real estate specialty practice of Korn Ferry International, employment analysts, said there are opportunities, particularly for senior level executives. "There are positions opening up on the asset and property management side of the business and in the financial arena," he said. Comptrollers and chief financial officers of development companies and real estate management companies are in demand, as well. "The marketplace is somewhat more energetic this quarter than last quarter, but not as strong as it was last year and there is cautious optimism in the air."

Bank Jobs Lost

The bank mergers, Nass feels, will streamline the institutions and make them more competitive, even while putting an estimated 30,000 people out of work in the coming year. "They will find employment or have to move outside of their chosen field," he said.

Nass also believes the "sooner the better" for the completion of the last round of bank mergers and the next expected rush. "Once all of these adjustments take place," he said, "the sooner we will be able to get on with business as usual. If it gets drawn out to next year or the year after, that's like trying to cure an injury by putting band-aids on rather than getting to the root of the problem."

One residential mortgage broker with a young family to support said he is very worried that his job will be lost should his large bank merge with an even larger bank. The Chemical and Manufacturers Hanover Trust merger is expected, he said, to eliminate 20 percent of the bank's combined 90,000 in personnel.

Dave Madison, president of the Bank Personnel Resources said he still sees openings for real estate lenders and mortgage specialists. "But the general picture is very difficult because there are so many mergers and so many people laid off." Some people who have been laid off, he said, simply cannot get back in. Madison said, in a year or more, those people will give up looking for work in their field of expertise. "Our aspect of the business is depressed because there is less of a tendency to use agencies," Madison said. "There are hardly openings."

Agencies a Luxury

Jeff Bernstein, president of Paula Berns, Inc. an employment agency concentrating in real estate recruiting for banks said there are few jobs available. "What little is out there people are trying to fill directly and not pay commissions," he said. "It affects me seriously; I'm considered to be a luxury."

Bernstein said he sees "good professionals" who are even willing to take 25 percent less in salary, just to get a job.

Companies that do not have the background or in-depth following will not be able to survive for the two or three years, Bernstein believes, it will still take to effect a recovery. "I take great exception to the sachems who say we are going to come out of the real estate depression," he said. Bernstein make his own prediction: "We haven't hit the depths yet. There is pain and chaos, and a combination thereof, brought on by the RTC and lending institutions having to write off billions of loans to Zambia. They are petrified to put money into good products."

He has seen those companies surviving cut from 50 staffers down to five. "Whether it is developers, banks, analysts, syndicators or institutions with real estate interests, it's terrible and it will be worse before it gets better."

Commission-Only Jobs Open

Nancy Packes, president of the Feathered Nest, which specializes in the rental market, said she has been running employment ads for the past three months. The rental agent jobs are commission only and she receives many calls. "An enormous number of people respond but I wouldn't even consider giving them an interview," she said. "They sound like functional illiterates."

Of the four or five a week who have managed to convince Packes they deserve an interview, she has been able to only hire one a week. She still needs more to run her rental business properly. "The biggest limitation in the market has been the inability to hire enough people," she said. "I will only hire people who will represent a level of service and there aren't enough. I am turning away prospective tenants. I mean it so seriously."

Packes said many prospective employees have a lack of familiarity with the rental market and admits the commission-only job could scare more qualified people away. "Decent people don't necessarily see it as a place for them," she said. "I see it from commercial brokers and sales people." Brokers from other sectors tend not to make the long-term commitment, she said, because their market is more lucrative and they expect to go back once that part of the market turns around.

Eleanor Shane, manager of the construction division of Allegheny Personnel, said she was not surprised by the number of people Packes had to contend with who did not qualify for jobs. "We screen out all of those people," she said, pointing to one benefit of using an agency.

Allegheny places people into supervisory construction jobs such as project managers, schedulers and estimators. Estimators are always needed, Shane said, even when business is slow because they help land the construction work. She said good estimators also work their way out of the jobs.

Construction placement has also contracted and Shane said there are only two competitors left. "The others have all gone out of business."

Municipal Construction Strong

Construction is very flat right now, she said, although she has heard that the building of single-family homes may be picking up. "The main area right now is municipal construction," she said. "There's a lot of work through the School Construction Authority, building things like court houses, post offices and jails." Shane noted that many companies that never did that kind of work are taking these jobs because the developers are all sitting back and the banks are not lending for construction.

On the other hand, Shane said, "People are getting laid off and people who are working are waiting to change jobs because they are afraid to jeopardize what they have."

Thomas Van Riper, president of Van Riper Realtors which specializes in the Queens real estate market, as well as some commercial, said he can afford to hire because he only pays commissions. "We have people making $200,000 a year, net, net, net," he said. "Business is really good for some people and it stinks for others but the company can hire all they have room for." He said he has 100 desks and he keeps them filled.

"A quarter of our competition is gone," Van Riper admitted.

Van Riper said they all "make a living" but noted that the superstars can even be beginners. "Ego drive makes it," he said, "it's for self satisfaction. It's the psycho-dynamics of wanting to persuade somebody. If they have that and the ability to have empathy, then they are almost assured of success.

Marvin Low, vice president of Interboro Holding Corp. which manages properties, has been running employment ads for building managers. He said there are many people looking for jobs. "A lot of them are willing to accept less than they were originally getting paid," he noted.

Low has, however, found that while there are many qualified building managers, there are not as many qualified to handle the co-ops which require someone to work closely with boards. "When you're working with a co-op you have to teach the people how to run the building," he said.

When looking into qualifications, he has found many of the candidates have not worked for co-ops for more than one or two years. "You want an agent who is well versed in the subject and want them to have many years under their belt," Low said.

"If I were looking for a regular managing agent, I'd have more than I need," he said.

Low said the average agent in the industry makes from $25,000 to $40,000 based on what he is covering. "Some people ask for more," he said, noting that many Manhattan managers seem to have lost their jobs. "They work in offices in Manhattan when everything was flying, but they really don't have the qualifications." Even so, he said, "they come in still asking for those numbers."

Leslie Himmel, a partner in Himmel & Meringoff Properties, which are owners of 2 million square feet, said she is seeing a lot of people looking for jobs. "I must get a call a week from real estate people who are out of work," she said. "I see a lot of people leaving bigger firms and setting up their own shop." She believes many people are not choosing to leave but have been told they must find other employment. "Times are tough and some people will see one person's loss is another's gain," Himmel said.

"This is the market of survivors," Van Riper said, "and the survivors are doing very nicely."
COPYRIGHT 1991 Hagedorn Publication
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1991, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

Article Details
Printer friendly Cite/link Email Feedback
Title Annotation:real estate job market
Author:Weiss, Lois
Publication:Real Estate Weekly
Date:Sep 11, 1991
Previous Article:Thai restaurant to open in 'emerging neighborhood.' (Lavo Thai Seafood Restaurant)
Next Article:7th Ave. office bldg goes condo.

Related Articles
AREW coming back with new programs.
Jeffrey Modell Foundation to honor Aby Rosen.
Nothing junior about this partner.
American ORT awards issued Dec. 6.
Scott Salmirs: a man who knows his real estate. (Profile of the Week: Scott Salmirs).
Increase in employment not seen helping industry.
Jobs boom: would-be brokers are lining up to get their state licenses.
Future looks bright for nation's property managers.
Classic moves take Teshima to the top of her profession. (PROFILE OF THE WEEK: Anne Teshima, vice president, Classic Realty & Marketing).

Terms of use | Copyright © 2016 Farlex, Inc. | Feedback | For webmasters