The number of listings was 23 per cent lower than in November and 49 per cent lower than in December 2022.
Ray White Dalkeith Claremont agent Laura Johns said the market was challenging with some real estate agents changing industries due to an inability to increase their supply.
“But stock levels aren’t the only reason people leave the industry, other factors such as the freedom, flexibility, motivation, unpredictable cash flow and competition impact people’s decision to work in the industry,” she said.
“The job looks glamorous on social media, but there is a lot of work that goes on behind the scenes that isn’t pictured.
“It is a 24/7 job and it can be hard achieving a balance, you don’t ever get to switch off.”
REIWA chief executive Cath Hart said industry numbers have been trending downwards since the last downturn.
“Agents often meet with potential clients in the evening or on weekends, and they can be on the phone with clients at all hours of the day and conducting negotiations well into the night,” she said.
“As a newcomer to the industry you face competition from established agents, and you need to spend time building a network and it can take a while for you to get your first listing.
“You then need to remember that you don’t get paid until the property sells and then settles.”
Hart said while people might expect houses selling quickly would be easier for agents, they were typically managing 10 offers for a property, which took a significant amount of time.
“There is also the emotional aspect, for example telling people they weren’t the successful buyer and dealing with their disappointment and trying to find them other options,” she said.
Hart said there was an adage that 15 per cent of agents sell 85 per cent of property but a review of REIWA member statistics shows about 46 per cent of agents sell about 85 per cent of property.
“This may seem concerning but not all agents are aiming to be multi-million-dollar sellers,” she said.
“Some are happy to sell a certain number of properties a year and make a comfortable living.”
Contessi said tight market conditions meant agents were employing new tactics including selling homes off-market by introducing buyers directly to homes and negotiating longer settlement terms while they find sellers their new home.
“It is reverse engineering the selling-buying process,” she said.
“There are many buyers out there desperate for a home and equally many sellers wanting to move on who know putting their home on the open market will mean a quick sale with nowhere for them to move to.”
Johns said the average commission for agents was 2 per cent however many were lowering their fees to secure listings from their competitors.