The number of real estate agents in the South has plummeted
by 20% in the past two years as the property market tightened
and potential commissions disappeared.
Figures from the Real Estate Agents' Licensing Board show
numbers are slowly increasing again in most areas alongside
an improving market.
Agents wanting to continue in the industry must notify the
Real Estate Agents' Licensing Board by the end of March each
The number of licensed agents in Otago, Central Otago and
Southland reached a record high of 1145 in March, 2007,
There were 671 licensed agents in Otago and 474 in Southland
at that time.
The figures included Central Otago, which did not get its own
separate statistics until the following year.
By April this year the total across the three areas had
dropped to 916 - 379 in Otago, 269 in Central Otago and 268
in Southland - a decline of 229 people, or 20%, in two years.
Numbers remained relatively steady in Central Otago over that
period, with almost all the agents leaving coming from Otago
By August this year, Otago's total had climbed to 391 and
Southland's to 280.
The number of agents in Central Otago increased by 35 and was
just below the March figure.
The exodus of agents in the South mirrors national
The peak year for agents nationally was March last year when
21,734 were licensed.
The tally dropped to 15,213 in April this year - a decline of
24.8% - and had inched up to 16,297 by August.
Auckland, which has by far the country's largest property
market, had 9542 agents in March last year; 13 months later
there were 6442, a slide of 32.4%.
Mark Stevens, managing partner of Dunedin's Metro Realty, the
company with the lion's share of residential sales in the
city, said he was not surprised by the number of agents who
left the industry as the property market tightened.
The number of houses on the market in Dunedin dropped by
almost half over 11 months last year, with similar declines
recorded elsewhere in the region.
That was enough to weed out agents who had previously worked
part-time who were were not totally committed, Mr Stevens
"Agents are mostly on commission only, so with fewer houses
selling, their income potential dropped. That was enough for
some people to look around for other work."
Only two agents had left his company, he said.
One got married and moved to Australia and the other returned
to the building industry.
The downturn also saw some company closures and reshuffling.
Among those companies to exit the Dunedin scene last year
were The Professionals, The Jones and Harveys.
Two companies set up to help vendors sell their homes
privately - The No Commission Shop and Green Door - also
closed their Dunedin offices.
This year, some smaller companies have closed offices, or
combined forces and renamed themselves.
Mr Stevens said "good agents and good companies" had survived
"When times are tough to sell houses, vendors choose the best
possible agent and company to get them a result. People are
choosier now. They definitely shop around and compare how
much companies are charging and the marketing strategies."