Growing a Property Agency Amidst the COVID-19 Lockdown

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Grosch Properties supports the government’s decision to flatten the curve and curb the spread of the COVID-19 virus, through social distancing and ensuring people stay at home, only keeping essential services operational. However, even though the property industry has been impacted and slowed down or even halted in keeping in line with regulations, Grosch Properties is forging ahead and offering online property consultations and solutions to our clients, prospective buyers and tenants, and the property industry at large.

HOW CAN CLIENTS BUY/SELL NOW?

The deeds office closure means that no transfers can take place. This of course, directly impacts our buyers and sellers as their transfers are delayed. Many landlords have suffered a financial loss due to tenants not being able to pay their rent either in full or part due to some of the financial implications caused by the national lockdown.

Property evaluations are also on hold as our real estate agents are unable to assess sellers property at this time. Face to face showhouses have been stopped for the lockdown period which means future buyers are unable to get a better look and feel of property first hand, however, Grosch Properties is offering prospective buyers and tenants the opportunity to view property listings through virtual tours using online video calling tools and conferencing software to assist with consultations.

For the duration of the lockdown administration facilities are on full standby. As previously mentioned with the deeds office being closed no transfers are possible. This further impacts legal consultation as transfer attorneys are unable to conduct consultation face to face and need to find alternative means to consult possibly utilising virtual meetings in the interim. Under normal circumstances, the transfer process is between 3 to 4 months, with the lockdown in place this timeframe could be extended, however, it is recommended that you consult your property agent regarding this.

THE IMPACT TO RENTAL AGREEMENTS

What is adding further impact to the rental market is the Force Majeure clause in rental contracts. Force Majeure in respect to the law, contractually, refers to the unforeseeable circumstances that prevent someone from fulfilling a contract. COVID-19 as a pandemic which may cause loss of income for both tenants or landlords, a force majeure clause in residential lease terms, of which certain circumstances will prevent the fulfilment of contractual obligations, these clauses may cause delay or absolve one or both parties to a contract for all or part of the compliance of their obligations due to the occurrence of events which are out of their control. It is important to note it is the responsibility of the party relying on the clause to prove that COVID-19 falls within the wording of the contract and non-performance has been a result of the virus outbreak. 

With the closure of the property development sector, flats and apartments which may have been made available for rental or purchase are now stagnant which further impacts the market. Nonetheless, sales and rental agents at Grosch Properties are standing by to assist as many clients and buyers as possible with virtual consultations, so that once the lockdown has ended, the ball has already started rolling to action the next steps in buying/selling/leasing property.

HOW DO WE INNOVATE FOR FUTURE?

The future of the real estate industry is changing in the manner in which business is conducted. Gone are the days of simply hosting showhouses and advertising properties in mainstream media. As new technologies emerge and economic trends continue to shift, every person in the housing market needs to be flexible and able to adapt to a new landscape from the real estate agencies to the real estate agents. Increasing interconnectivity, mobility and work flexibility will have an impact on property prices in urban centres. 

Home connectivity using wifi has in the midst of a pandemic gone from being a luxury to an essential service, as more people are forced to work remotely. These additional options should be considered to modernize a home increasing market value. 

Real estate agencies engaging with clientele through internet-based platforms such as social media, digital consultations and mobile marketing to increase market share, expand accessibility and interaction between clientele and real estate agents should see this as growth opportunities. Like many other industry leaders and business developers, Grosch Properties are following these innovative trends to bring them into the additional value-added service options available to all our clients to continue to support them.

THE GROSCH COMMITMENT

Grosch Properties remains committed to our clientele. Whilst our offices are closed all sales and rental staff are working remotely from home. The full complement of our team is available to our clients should they need any assistance and can answer property queries. Remember that potential buyers may be reviewing your property for purchase once lockdown is lifted in South Africa. This is relevant to both buyers, sellers and landlords as we are well able to advise with regards to future sales.

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For COVID-19 updates, visit official government website www.sacoronavirus.co.za