Real Estate Agencies Downsizing

Top Shanghai real estate agents downsize as sales slowdown takes a toll
Shanghai's top real estate agent has been forced to downsize, hurt in part by a delay in commission payments from property developers in a market facing increasing liquidity pressure and a slowdown in sales.

Hong Kong-based Centaline Property, which has around 470 branches in Shanghai, told Reuters it has imposed a hiring feeze in the commercial capital and has been reviewing leases at some of its branches since the fourth quarter of last year.

"For agents and shops that can't meet quotas, we would let staff go through natual attrition and stop renting," said Clement Luk, Centaline's chief executive of east China.

"April's transactions in Shanghai were around 20 percent lower than March; looking at the momentum now, April may not be the bottom yet, May and June could still be on a downtrend."

Another leading agent in Shanghai, Dooioo Real Estate, said it was also cutting staff, although it still planned to increase its number of branches in the city to 250 by the end of the year from 206 now.

Chinese media reported on Monday that the two real estate agents were cutting staff by 5 to 10 percent, citing internal sources.

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