Property brokers struggle amid market slump

By Quang Huong   November 22, 2022 | 06:16 pm PT
Property brokers struggle amid market slump
Buildings in downtown Ho Chi Minh City. Photo by VnExpress/Quynh Tran
After the frenzied activity at the beginning of 2022 the real estate market has slowed down in recent months, causing many brokers to lose their jobs.

While he easily earned thousands of dollars during the boom, Son, a freelance land broker in the Central Highlands province of Dak Nong, says now he is trying to sell through social media but with no luck.

"When the market was good, I sold three plots of land in three or four months and earned nearly VND100 million ($4,041)," he said. "Now the situation is different. No one wants to buy land. No one replies to news I post on Facebook groups."

Ai in the southern Kien Giang Province also struggles to find customers. She once managed to earn VND80 million a month at the height of the boon, but has only sold one plot of land in the last four months, earning a paltry VND5 million.

She has been forced to sell all her gold and even take out loans.

She says: "In the past I earned at least VND10 million a month. Currently finding customers, even one, is very difficult."

The recent slump in the real estate market has left brokers struggling. The number of transactions fell by more than 50% year-on-year in the third quarter and was a mere third of the first quarter number.

Le Hoang Chau, the chairman of the Ho Chi Minh City Real Estate Association (HoREA), says many property businesses have had to pare their workforce, some by up to 50%.

Tuan in the central province of Binh Thuan is in such a situation. He used to earn around VND15 million a month, but he is now losing that income and finding it difficult to cover costs.

Many small and medium-sized real estate trading floors have shut down, but even the larger ones have been forced to slash their payrolls, a recent survey by property website found.

Around 300,000 brokers are thought to be impacted by the slump. While freelancers like Son, Ai and Tuan are worried where their next sale, and thus income, is going to come from, brokers who keep their jobs have to subsist on a salary of VND4–8 million a month.

HoREA reports that some businesses have been forced to cut up to 50% of their workforce as a result of market deterioration, and most laid-off brokers have trouble finding new jobs.

Ai says she spent almost all the money she earned from land sales when the market was strong. She has tried in vain to find a job for the last two or three months and lacked the capital to do online business.

"Now I'm back to my previous job of selling eggs online. When I sell 10 eggs, I make a profit of VND15,000. I can earn VND300,000-500,000 on a good day and around VND200,000 on a slow day."

Tuan has gone back to his previous job as a medical sales representative. But since he has not worked for a year, many of his old contacts have been lost, which impacts his income.

However, he intends to continue working until the end of this year unless he thinks of something better.

Tran Khanh Quang, general director of Viet An Hoa Real Estate Investment Joint Stock Company, says the market is unlikely to rebound before the second quarter of 2023.

Tuan says: "We have to try hard. I guess all jobs have ups and downs like this. I have to accept the situation and manage it. If I work at another job now, I might have to start over."

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