Should Property Top Brass Accept Bonuses?

Bankers’ bonuses have got up most noses recently – I’ve heard angry comments from very well-paid estate agents and developers as well as mere mortals – but is the property industry about to incur the same public wrath?

Although the housing downturn has been far less severe than many expected (notably, with fewer repossessions or stories of genuine public housing distress) there are still large numbers of owners in negative equity, and many people with relatives and friends unable to buy in these days of restricted mortgage availability.

So when New Year comes and agents start their round of large bonuses, will they be largely ignored by the press – as in past years – or will the red-tops get on the case?

Canny King Sturge got its retaliation in first by announcing just before the holidays that its partners had given up half their remuneration in the year to April 2009 so it could be used as working capital. The average pay for each UK partner, leaving aside the 50% ‘not taken’, was £216,000 – a far cry from the millions paid to bankers, but a sizeable sum for most men and women in the street.

In the new year, as bonuses are announced, the old ‘limited company’ versus ‘partnership’ debate will be played out, and it will be interesting to see what major agencies do…and how they couch the payments in public statements.

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