Red-hot property market brings windfall for estate agency staff

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 02 February, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 02 February, 2013, 4:25am

The red-hot property market in the first 10 months of last year has resulted in sizzling bonuses at some property agencies, which gave their non-sales staff up to 50 months' salary.

Centaline Property Agency gave its staff bonuses of between five and 50 months' pay, depending on the seniority and length of service.

"Only a few senior directors got 50 months," said Louis Chan Wing-kit, the managing director of the firm's housing department. "But no staff member got less than five months."

Centaline has nearly 500 non-sales staff.

Chan said the bonus, which is paid over four quarters, was directly linked to profits rather than staff performance.

"We do not have an appraisal system to evaluate staff performance. Every quarter, the company distributes a certain percentage of profits to share with non-sales staff," he said.

"We did very well in the first three quarters, hence our staff got more."

In November, the company was on the brink of a loss after the government announced a new round of cooling measures. But business revived in December, enabling the company to pay a bonus equivalent to 80 per cent of a month's pay for the fourth quarter, according to Chan.

The entire group, including subsidiary Ricacorp Properties and the China division, generated revenue of HK$11.3 billion last year, compared with less than HK$10 billion in 2011, said a source close to the company.

Ricacorp said the bonus for its 400 to 500 non-sales staff ranged from two to more than 10 months.

"Many staff got the average bonus of between two and four months," said Willy Liu Wai-keung, the chief executive of Ricacorp.

The number of home transactions last year rose 6.2 per cent to 115,500, totalling HK$654 billion, up 11.2 per cent from 2011, according to Midland Realty.

Midland executives were not available yesterday to disclose its bonuses for last year.

However, not all property agencies have been giving out large bonuses.

Luke Ng, the chief executive of Century 21st, said its bonuses were subject to staff performance.

"Some may not get any bonus," Ng said.