How the pandemic drove an increase in real estate agents

As Covid started to sweep the country in early 2020, and went on to disrupt our daily lives throughout 2021, the real estate sector saw the number of new sales agents jump with thousands of new entrants.

This uptick in new agents came at a time when social distancing, lockdowns, and government regulations severely impacted the normal routine of helping home owners sell their property.

According to figures from the Real Estate Authority (REA), the number of active licences in March 2020 was 15,512. Twelve months later the figure stood at 16,191, and by March this year there were 16,692 active estate agents working across New Zealand.

In March alone, 242 new licence applications were approved by the REA, bringing the new entrant total for the first quarter to 634. Auckland has the most estate agents with 7,257 active licence holders, and the lowest is Nelson/Marlborough with 403. contacted many of the leading real estate companies to ask how many agents they had on their books. Two agencies responded – Ray White has 2,772, and Barfoot & Thompson has 1,890.

One of them is Lani Allard who joined Bayleys Realty Group as a new recruit in 2020, but was soon head-hunted to work for Barfoot & Thompson.

Allard, 43, is no newbie to real estate though, she has been buying and selling homes for most of her adult life – she bought her first do-up when she was just 22. But in early 2020 she was ready for a fresh challenge, having just sold her Auckland-based spa business.

“I have always had a really strong interest in property,” she says. “It’s something I am really passionate about and I’ve had experience on both sides of the fence – buying and selling.”

Despite media reports of a then new virus circling the globe, Allard says she wasn’t phased by it. However, she assumed the real estate sector would face a slight downturn as a result.


“I did think that because of Covid-19 that the market would be very quiet, but I was prepared for that,” she says. “But it was very busy. I hit the ground running and haven’t stopped since.”

“As an estate agent you are in business and you can’t go into business with the mindset of failing,” she says. “I am very motivated, up at 6am and it’s often midnight before I climb into bed.”

Ultimately, says Allard, there is no ‘best time’ to start a business or change careers and says a serious commitment and investment is needed to succeed as a new estate agent. Allard backed herself with a $60,000 personal marketing campaign to raise her profile in her first year – and it paid off. She turned over almost $700,000 in 2020.

“One mistake some people make when getting into real estate is they think it is easy money,” says Allard. “But you have to spend money to make money – you have to market yourself. You have to treat being an estate agent as a small business – a business with no real overheads.”

Allard says her best advice for anyone wanting to work in real estate is to work with a good manager who will support them, and join a good company that doesn’t impose “too many rules and restrictions” on its agents.

And while Allard markets all types of homes, her passion is lifestyle properties.

“I enjoy working outside, being around animals, and visiting farms,” she says. “It’s great being out in the countryside.

“What I like is to help buyers who are moving out of town to the country, to help them understand what life in the country entails.”

Steve Hart

Steve Hart

Steve Hart is a specialist freelance writer covering all aspects of real estate.

Steve Hart

Steve Hart is a specialist freelance writer covering all aspects of real estate.

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