HOW COVID HAS CHANGED THE GLOBAL REAL ESTATE INDUSTRY
From wearing face masks in public to socialising from two meters apart, society is adapting to the rather unusual circumstances that have been brought about by COVID-19. As with all industries, the global real estate industry has had to adapt to the new normal.
In a recent blog posted by RE/MAX LLC, RE/MAX agents around the globe share the changes they have had to make in face of the pandemic and report on the levels of activity in their respective local markets. Across the globe, markets are also adopting similar safety and hygiene practices to those that we have become accustomed to within South Africa.
Wearing a face covering and using hand sanitiser has quickly become the norm and each house-showing or open house event is made as sanitary as possible. Sellers often have special instructions for agents, such as requiring temperature checks or asking guests to wear shoe coverings inside their homes. Although interested parties are encouraged to bring their own supplies, agents are getting creative when finding ways to provide sanitary supplies as a thoughtful gift.
“Branded safety kits are our new tools for private viewings. We now have gloves, masks and hand sanitiser available at all house tours,” shares Kathleen Shaw, an agent with RE/MAX Revolution in Auckland, New Zealand. Shaw created her own decorated kits, which include a disposable face mask and pair of gloves for clients.
In many cases, there are now limits to the number of people allowed inside a house at one time – and it will likely stay this way to maintain social distancing. “Now, when I host an open house, I’ll greet people at the door with sanitiser and make sure everyone is wearing masks. I’ll have one group touring the first floor while another group is touring the second floor – but I will not just let everyone in at once,” says Susan Loparo, an agent with RE/MAX Traditions in Ohio.
Increased use of technology in the home-buying and selling processes has also been a trend across the globe. To prevent unnecessary in-person meetings, buyers are beginning their home search online, touring homes via video calls and even signing digital contracts. Now more convenient than ever, digital communication tools – including video call platforms such as Zoom – allow both buyers and sellers to work alongside their agent with minimal in-person contact.
“Without a doubt, tech has been the best ally to sellers, buyers and agents. With virtual home tours in demand, our cellphones are now our best tools. This is most likely to stay for a while – or forever,” says Tonny Madrigal, an agent with RE/MAX Executive Realty in San Jose, Costa Rica.
Moving on to the market conditions, the U.S. is currently experiencing an unprecedented seller’s market. So much so that Lisa Harris, an agent with RE/MAX Center in Georgia, recently sold a home that received a staggering 86 offers. The closing attorney noted that this was a record for the highest amount of offers he’s ever seen on one house.
Like in most real estate market across the globe, the increased activity within the property market is driven by change as lifestyle factors, such as remote learning and working from home, that are shifting peoples’ wants and needs in their living spaces.
According to Adrian Goslett, Regional Director and CEO of RE/MAX of Southern Africa, the South African real estate industry is experiencing many of the same changes in safety protocols as have been mentioned above. The South African property market has also seen an unprecedented increase in sales activity following the hard lockdown.
“Despite this renewed activity, I predict that house price appreciation will remain low for 2021 as a result of the financial pressure many households will feel owing to ongoing economic challenges brought about by the pandemic. That being said, the 2021 market presents as many opportunities as it does challenges. Those who can afford to invest in real estate now will stand to make substantial long-term returns on their investment,” Goslett concludes.