Macau's flourishing gaming and tourism industries have given strong momentum to the territory's property market and its outlook remains bright.
According to Jones Lang LaSalle's Macau mid-year property review, rentals and the capital values of high-end properties grew by 7.6 per cent and 4.3 per cent respectively in the residential market, while the office vacancy rate is now below 20 per cent, due to a growing demand for office space from local, overseas and mainland Chinese companies.
The prosperous market is fuelling a stronger demand for good property management services, says James Wong, head of property management, Greater China, Jones Lang LaSalle. The company has been doing business in Macau since 2004 and is currently managing the FIT Centre, AIA Tower, CAM Building at Macau International Airport and two residential projects, Nam Van Peninsula and Lot W. He adds that Macau is one of the core markets for the company's Greater China property management business.
"Before the liberalisation of the territory's gaming market, the development of the property market slowed markedly and put a brake on the growth of property management as well," Mr Wong states. This was also reflected in the standard of property management.
Room for growth
While pointing out that Macau has lagged far behind its Hong Kong and mainland China counterparts when it comes to property management, Mr Wong says that left plenty of room for improvement. The industry was taken by surprise by the manpower supply shortage, which still poses a major challenge.
Many employees working in property management in Macau were initially trained for the hospitality industry. This can lead to a lack of understanding in the field. The limited supply of manpower has also been aggravated by protectionism in the Macau labour market, restricting industry practitioners' flexibility to recruit experienced staff from overseas, Mr Wong explains.
"The Macau government requires employers to recruit local people as their first priority. Overseas expatriates and Hong Kong and mainland China staff are subject to a three to five-month application period for employment visas," he says.
With the increasing job opportunities in the gaming and tourism industries, most Macau people prefer to work in these fields, which offer better remuneration packages and career prospects, Mr Wong notes. Newly developed luxury residential and commercial projects therefore have to resort to recruiting experienced property management professionals from Hong Kong to fill the vacancies, he adds.
Most of Jones Lang LaSalle Macau's property management staff in senior positions come from Hong Kong. They have the experience and can implement the best practices from Hong Kong. Many of the junior positions are filled by staff from the mainland, the Philippines and Macau locals, mostly responsible for security, customer service and back-end office support.
There is currently no professional qualification requirements for property management professionals in Macau. When new applicants from Hong Kong are considered, their previous work experience and exposure in different markets are assessed. Those whose families are already in Macau also enjoy priority.
In order to attract staff from Hong Kong, Jones Lang LaSalle generally offers salary packages that are relatively higher than those on offer in Hong Kong. The company also provides training and other assistance such as manpower support from locals to help new employees from Hong Kong adapt to the new environment.
Mr Wong predicts that career advancement opportunities for property management professionals in Macau will continue to grow as more Hong Kong land developers release luxury residential projects and high class commercial office buildings in the territory. He advises those who are interested in entering the PM field in Macau to pay attention to the region's regulations controlling real estate and PM which differ greatly from Hong Kong, and its official languages. He notes also that funds being very active in Macau, highly skilled professional property managers can move into asset management or fund management positions.
"Apart from Macau, mainland China and the rest of Asia are also demanding property management professionals. This will continue as long as the economy remains buoyant and more new residential and commercial projects are built in the region," Mr Wong says.
With his extensive experience in the Greater China region, Mr Wong says Hong Kong professionals in the industry are highly regarded for their work quality, work ethics and management capabilities. He considers these to be strengths when employees look to expand their careers in the Greater China market. However, success ultimately requires patience and hard work, he cautions.