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Recruiters say demand for commercial property talent remains strong in 201428th June 2014

Commercial property recruitment overview, Q1 2014Already this year at Judd Farris we have witnessed tremendous growth across all real estate functions in London. Our construction division is increasingly busy, especially within the residential sector, with employers looking for candidates not just for individual roles in the region, but also for national recruitment campaigns. In 2013, the demand for candidates across the residential market was high – from acquisitions through to project managers –and this year the trend has followed into the commercial sector in London with investors feeling more confident in making larger real estate transactions. We have also seen contract hires across the construction sector of the industry (for example construction and electrical site manager roles) increase by 17 per cent.

At the beginning of 2014 we saw a strong demand for surveyors - for example the number of permanent hires for surveyors (building and chartered surveyor roles) from January to May 2014 increased by 9per cent. However real movement in London’s market came after the spring bonus payouts, this is reflected by the fact that this is the first year since the recession that individuals felt their bonuses echoed their results. The growing confidence in the market has meant that the demand for more senior candidates is growing – the increase in the number of organisations looking for fund managers within the retail sector is particularly encouraging. The demand for candidates with experience in valuations, investment and project management continues to reflect the buoyancy in the economy and confidence in investing in the capital.

In 2014 we have also seen a shift in the ratio of roles we have registered from the corporate occupier market versus the investor market. After the downturn of the economy, we were working on roles predominantly from the occupier sector, however, we have now seen a complete shift towards the investor market – a sure sign that the real estate industry is improving.

There has been an increase in salaries in 2014 – a welcome development among candidates given that basic salary levels were frozen during the recession. Basic level salaries of two year post-qualified experience (pqe) valuation surveyors now start at £35-£40,000, while an investment surveyor can expect to earn between £37-£40,000 and a facilities manager will start at £35,000. At an Associate level, we can expect to see valuation surveyors and site managers earning basic salaries of £55,000, while a project manager can earn up to £60,000. However, it is worth noting that organisations are increasing salaries with some caution, keen to make sure this is not perceived as a short-term capacity solving measure, rather as a means to attract and retain the best talent in the industry.

There is no doubt that the construction sector suffers a skills shortage of top talent - qualified surveyors with one to four years’ experience continue to be in short supply in 2014. However, the market remains fluid, so the opportunity to match the right candidate with the best organisation is still strong.

Many British citizens from the real estate sector relocated abroad during the recession, in particular to the Middle East where the commercial industry remained strong during the past few years. These individuals have really struggled to return to the UK market during 2012 and 2013, however, this year we are seeing many clients welcoming applications from RICS qualified surveyors if they have had a successful career within UK property prior to moving abroad. This change has been brought about by the demand for candidates to staff the growing commercial industry and reflects the fact that clients need to become more flexible if they are to meet their staffing objectives.

Social media is becoming one of most exciting tools for recruitment in the property industry and 2014 has witnessed a continued increase in use of the channel to attract candidates. The savviest companies will be all over social media, so we recommend that recruiters invest more heavily in developing their online marketing strategies and technology capabilities.  

About the author

Abby Burman, Judd Farris property recruitmentAbby Burman is an Associate Director with commercial property recruitment specialists Judd Farris. 

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