More than 10pc of property agents to quit industry by end of year
More than one in 10 estate agents will leave the industry by the end of the year, many because of the property market slump.
About 1,900 agents working with conditional licences have yet to sit the examination to obtain permits to practise beyond 2001.
The test must be taken before the end of the year, but the last written exam will be held on Friday.
Although the agents could still sit the salesperson examination within the next two weeks, only a handful were expected to do so, an industry leader said.
Salespeople, unlike estate agents, cannot set up their own businesses and this exam is considered the most basic qualification.
About 10 per cent of the 19,000 property agents working today would be unable to practise their trade next year, a spokesman for the Estate Agents Authority said.
'Some of them may have found they are not suitable for the trade and opt for other careers,' he said.
Victor Cheung Kam-shing, executive director of Midland Realty, said the number of people who quit the industry would be much higher.
'Even among those who have passed the examination, many of them are not working as property agents,' he said.
Mr Cheung estimated that only about 10,000 property agents would still be in their jobs next year.
'The property market in the past few years has been in bad shape,' Mr Cheung said.
'In the past we have had far too many people. Even now, the market is over-supplied with property agents.
'I think the drop will not affect the industry at all.'
In the market's heyday in 1997, more than 30,000 people were working as estate agents, most of them with no professional training.
In 1999, the authority set out to regulate the industry. All new practising agents now have to sit an examination to obtain official permits to continue practising beyond this year.
Senior practitioners are not required to sit the test but have to complete a qualification course.
However, despite repeated efforts by the authority to attract people to take the exam, many estate agents have chosen to leave the industry.