Realtors pay bigger-than-average bonuses after 12 months of record sales in HK defied city’s Covid-19 outbreak and gloomy job market

28-Jan-2022 Intellasia | South China Morning Post | 5:02 AM Print This Post

Hong Kong’s realtors will increase the bonus cheques of their clerical staff this year, after 12 months of record property transactions that defied the city’s gloomy labour market and a resurgent Covid-19 outbreak.

Midland Holdings Limited, Hong Kong’s sole publicly traded agency, said it would pay up to 2.4 months of salary as bonuses for clerks and support staff, with the average pegged at 1.7 months. Midland IC&I, a unit of the Midland Group that specialises in non-residential commercial property, will pay up to 1.95 months, with the average being 1.35 months.

Midland’s 2021 revenue may jump 23 per cent to a record HK$6.11 billion (US$785 million) according to Bloomberg’s consensus forecasts, “thanks to the contributions of [our] colleagues,” said the agency’s deputy Chair Angela Wong. “So while the pandemic is still severe, we distribute [bigger] bonuses to thank them for their contributions and for always sticking to their posts.”

Hong Kong’s 2021 property transactions comprising homes, shops, offices, industrial buildings and even car-parking space jumped 46.1 per cent to HK$917.8 billion (US$117.87 billion), according to Land Registry’s data, the highest volume since records began in 1996.

That made 2021 a bumper year for realtors, where salespeople collect fees from both sides of every transaction. The sales agent typically gets a commission equal to 1 per cent of the transacted value each from the buyer and the seller for lived-in homes. Higher fees apply for new residential property.

At Centaline Property Agency, Hong Kong’s biggest real estate sales network, bonuses have similarly increased to a three-year high, with supervisors getting 2.44 months’ salary as bonuses while support staff get 1.63 months.

There will also be a 3-per cent increment in salaries across the company, Centaline said, after its 2021 sales rose 22 per cent to HK$5.4 billion despite market volatility and the threat of a fifth-wave outbreak in the fourth quarter.

Dorsett Hospitality International, which runs a chain of hotels including those that serve as quarantine facilities for incoming visitors, said it would pay two months’ salary as bonus, raise salaries by 3 per cent on average and shorten its work week to five days.

Employees who help the government perform quarantine duties to contain the Covid-19′s spread are also eligible for HK$3,000 in monthly allowance, Dorsett said.

The next year will be even better, particularly in industries that outperform the broader economy as the Covid-19 pandemic is expected to run its course, said Alexa Chow, managing director of the recruitment consultant ACTS Consulting, predicting that real estate bonuses may rise by 20 per cent in 2023.

“Property and banking will [pay] better as they were less affected and had a rebound,” said Chow, adding that the property sector pays between 1.6 and 1.8 months of salary as bonuses, higher than the city’s average at 1.5 months.

Hong Kong’s average bonus rose 20 per cent this year, back to 2019 levels before the city’s labour market was slammed by a recession caused by the one-two punch of Covid-19 pandemic and street protests.

Still, the so-called fifth wave of outbreak has dented the optimism in a city that had mostly eluded the Delta strain of the infectious virus, until now. That made some employers less generous than they could have been in December, Chow said.

The situation “is worse in January with the mass outbreak,” she said. “Employers [who have yet to announce their bonus payouts] tend to be more conservative now,” Chow said.


Category: Hong Kong

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