Record increase in real estate agent numbers over last year

Abigail Dougherty/Stuff

Auckland University professor of urban planning Elham Bahmanteymouri explains why Kiwis have poured so much capital into housing, while other countries are content to rent. (Video first published in July 2021)

Covid-19 is the reason Ajit Saini became a real estate agent, and new Real Estate Authority figures show he is not alone.

A record number of people joined the industry last year.

Saini, 42, had worked in sales for a large furniture company for many years and his family had often told him he should go into real estate.

But he never took their suggestions seriously – until the pandemic hit. Unable to work over the level 4 lockdown and unsure about what the future held, he decided the time was right to make the move.

He got his licence and started work last October, and he has not looked back since.

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“It was helpful that the market has been booming since I started,” Saini said. “That’s because it takes time to grow your roots and build up networks.”

A move earlier this year to Century 21’s newly opened Manuka branch also helped.

With Auckland back in level 4 lockdown, it is a bit harder, he said. “But I’m enjoying the work and looking forward to the next stage of my career.”

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Saini said large numbers of people were studying real estate at the same time he was, and Real Estate Authority figures back that up.


Century 21 Manukau agent Ajit Saini says last year’s level 4 lockdown prompted him to become a real estate agent.

Real Estate Authority chief executive Belinda Moffat said that despite a brief lull during last year’s level 4 lockdown, the authority had issued a record 2597 new licences during the 2020/21 financial year.

This took the number of active real estate licensees in the country to 16,257 at the end of June this year. That was in comparison to 15,153 in June 2019 and 15,520 in June last year.

It was the highest level of licences since the establishment of the authority and reflected the highly active real estate market, Moffat said.

“It is possible that the Covid-19 economic environment has contributed to this increase, with skilled Kiwis now seeking new job opportunities

“The average age of someone applying for a real estate licence is 38, which suggests applicants are bringing their skills and experience to real estate after having had careers in other fields.”

But the figures showed the increase was in the salesperson category. The number of branch managers and agents dropped over the year.

Moffat said it was necessary to renew real estate licences every year and data around this showed many new licensees left the industry after only a short time.

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“Generally, 21 per cent of new licensees were no longer active after one year, while 33 per cent were no longer active after two years.


Real Estate Authority chief executive Belinda Moffat says there has been a big increase in the number of real estate agents over the last year.

“We will be watching the latest intake of new salespersons to see if they follow that trend.”

While there had been an increase in new entrants to the industry, most licensees were experienced professionals, with 40 per cent of agents having held a licence for 10 years or more, she said.

The increase in new licensee numbers did not surprise veteran agent Andrew Murray, who is the director of Apartment Specialists.

He said there was always an increase in agents when the market was busy and prices were going up.

“It’s easy for agents to do well when the market is booming, but the art of being a good agent is getting properties to sell.

“So when the market dips and numbers decline, it becomes harder to succeed. That’s when lots of people get out of the industry, as we saw after the last boom.”

Most property experts have forecast that sales activity and price growth would continue to slow over the next year.

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