The 24/7 nature of real estate is stressful for agents
Real estate bosses are being urged to check in with staff after a new survey revealed high levels of stress in the industry.
A recent survey by the Real Estate Institute of New Zealand (REINZ) found real estate agents, in particular, feel considerable pressure as a result of being constantly available, almost 24/7.
REINZ said it was aware of the intense demands in the industry and surveyed members to understand the pressures the profession is facing.
The survey revealed work life balance was a major challenge for those in real estate.
Advances in technology meant agents could be contacted a variety of ways long outside regular working hours.
Bindi Norwell, Chief Executive at REINZ, said agents found it hard to achieve a work/life balance and property managers often suffered abuse from unhappy tenants.
Agents spoke of being verbally and physically abused by tenants.
Other pressures included constantly changing legal requirements.
There was a requirement “to keep up with the significant changes in legislation that have occurred over the past year such as AML, insulation and the foreign buyer controls.”
“This compliance aspect of the roles for both salespeople and property managers is likely to continue rather than reduce,” Norwell said.
The survey revealed work/life balance issues affected 74% of people in the industry, with the highest incidence in branch managers (82%) and those who had worked in the industry for 6-10 years (80%), while ‘other North Island’ responders stood at 78%.
Stress overall affected 69% of branch managers and 68% of those working in property management. The latter also featured in the mental health overall category at 48%.
Norwell said the nature of the industry, with its busy and quiet periods, was stressful.
“The property market fluctuates and, when it’s quiet, the stresses on agents can be increased as a result of reduced income,” she said.
“In busy times, the sheer exhaustion of managing constant listings, marketing and sales as well as being available for vendors and buyers during a negotiation often late into the evenings and managing open homes over weekend can affect their physical or mental wellbeing.”
Norwell urged agencies to be aware of the challenges their agents and property managers may be facing, and to be proactive if they saw somebody clearly struggling, tired, quiet, withdrawn or obviously anxious.
“A good manager will notice signs and symptoms and discreetly talk to the person, maybe offering advice on where to find medical help.
“Many agencies have comprehensive support mechanisms in place now, but it requires ongoing vigilance to ensure valued members of the team do not slip through the cracks,” she said.
Real estate professionals who felt the need to be constantly available may not be sleeping well, eating a good diet, exercising or taking time out for relaxation.
“It’s important to have a daily structure that includes all of these things, alongside of work, so that health and wellbeing can be proactively managed, and homes, family and personal wellbeing are not overlooked or compromised,” she said.
Some real estate professionals felt they had no choice but to work twelve hour days, six or even seven days a week.
But Norwell said it was important to establish a routine and try to limit work to times identified as most productive and hours when customers were typically most in need of their attention.
Norwell said if depression or anxiety wasn’t relieved by better time management or lifestyle changes, there were a number of options available to those who are affected.
“Professionals mustn’t be embarrassed to ask for help and managers should be prepared to listen,” Norwell said.
“The best tool any of us have is communication and if we use it well, there’s every possibility of finding a productive outcome.”