Sukhdeep Aurora, Chief People Officer – ANAROCK Property Consultants
When it comes to the factors influencing recruitment trends in Indian real estate in 2018, a lot comes to mind. However, there are three interesting developments which can be considered predominant among them:
1. Technology adoption
Adeptness in digital technology and upskilling to Digitech skills are definitely prime watchwords for selecting the right candidates. To be sure, technology is the change driver around which more and more real estate recruitment decisions will be taken.
This is because, whether an industry which tends to hang stubbornly on to the traditional ways of doing its business likes it or not, technology will replace – and in fact is already replacing – at least 75% of the traditional methods of sourcing real estate opportunities at both the buyers’ and sellers’ end. In this highly opportunistic market, operational speed is of greater essence than ever before, and the use of technology to achieve this speed is indispensable.
Nor is this increasing focus on technological skills limited to just consultancies – even developers have woken up to the fact that they cannot survive any longer without getting the ‘tech edge’, and prefer hiring young people who have these skills in their DNA, so to speak, rather than investing in upskilling their existing workforce.
Especially in the case of smaller developers, there is a very visible aversion to technology adoption among older employees who fail to understand what all the fuss is about. However, such developers face a much deeper problem. Their inherent lack of knowledge about modern technology-driven ways of doing real estate business makes hiring the right talent difficult. In many cases, they would have to change almost their entire staff – beginning with HR – to not only hire but also adequately utilize more tech-adept people.
In response to the deep-rooted technology handicap that such developers face, the agiler real estate consultancies and brokerages leveraged real estate technology long before, and are able to provide their clients with the benefits of this expertise. Being already tech-entrenched, they also know exactly which kind of talent to hire, and provide constant upskilling to ensure that they stay ahead of the constant and lightning-fast tech learning curve.
2. RERA (non) compliance
The second real estate hiring trend of note in 2018 is dictated by the recent policy changes which have defined how real estate business is done in India. While it has not managed to make a 360-degree sweep of them as yet, RERA is in the process of eliminating non-registered property brokers from the field.
Individual brokers working with a real estate consultancy are covered under the company’s RERA registration and do not need to register under RERA individually. However, this game-changing act has still had a distinct impact on the hiring activities of RERA-registered consultancies. Many smaller brokerages (and individual brokers) do not, for any of a number of reasons, see themselves as having much of a future in the post-RERA era.
The operatives which such agencies have had to let go, and individual brokers who have some degree of real estate experience but cannot hope to succeed on their own now, are currently scouting the job market for opportunities. The numbers here are considerable, and the result is that there is something of a glut of aspiring real estate agents applying with RERA-registered property consultancies.
However, because of the stringent rules that RERA requires property consultancies to comply with, less than 10% of this newly-available talent is actually recruitable by serious real estate firms.
Brokers who made a living bending the rules or ignoring them altogether are often too set in their ways to learn to play by the book. This makes them very risky hiring propositions, no matter what they profess – the saying ‘the road to hell is paved with good intentions’ comes easily to mind. RERA-registered property consultancies cannot afford to gamble on wild cards. The kind of talent they now look for is grass-roots honest and firmly believes in transparency, rather than just nodding vaguely in its direction.
3. The diversity imperative
Diversity is and will continue to be a very big factor directing the HR policies of real estate players who are in it for the long haul. This is not just about amplifying their appeal on the job and business market – it is about recognizing that a workforce with a good balance of men and women simply does better business. Indian real estate has historically been a pretty male-oriented arena, but this is changing fast.
Not only does broadening the hiring decisions open up at least 50% more qualified and appropriately tempered candidates; it also is the framework of a significantly more productive workforce. Also, women are really excellent at not only property brokering and consulting but also as researchers, team players and team motivators. In 2018, we are already seeing a lot more women being hired by the larger and organized real estate developers, property consultancies and home finance firms.
Overall, we are looking at a vastly transformed recruitment mindset in Indian real estate in 2018. All three of the above factors are relatively new to the Indian realty context, and 2018 is at best a year of slightly accelerated change rather than a year of fait accompli transformation. However, the changes we are seeing now in terms of how people are hired in the real estate sector are by nature permanent ones. And it is definitely high time for a major sea-change on this front.