The property industry can accurately be described as essential to both the everyday lives of every Australian and also to the broader economy. Providing the basic human need of shelter, property also has a total value of $6.8 trillion, underpinning the wealth of all Australians.
Every Australian needs a home. Whether that home is owned or rented, in almost all cases a real estate professional’s services will be required to facilitate the journey. It’s vital the property industry is allowed continuity of operation throughout the current crisis, to ensure the market is a solid foundation for the economy not only now as we move through the pandemic, but also when the recovery process begins.
Fundamentally, the need for buyers and sellers to transact always exists at some level, regardless of market conditions. The orderly completion of sales and purchases by industry professionals throughout the coming months will be good for confidence and lessen the shock to the overall economy. We estimate that across the country, there are at least 30,000 unconditional property sale contracts currently awaiting settlement. Derailing or preventing these settlements en masse will not only be a serious issue for the parties directly involved, but could adversely impact consumer confidence and ultimately, completely destabilise the property market.
As well as supporting property buyers and sellers, the real estate industry provides invaluable support to both commercial and residential tenants. In addition to the placement of tenants, rental properties require continuous management, to ensure occupants can operate businesses, have safe shelter for their families and are able to maintain a high standard of health. Especially in an environment where many tenants will suffer financial hardship, professional support for both landlords and tenants is more important than ever.
Of course, the continuation of this essential service must not in any way exacerbate the spread of Covid-19 and we recognise that the property industry must do everything in its power to support the governments’ efforts to flatten the curve of infection. While we will continue to adapt our practices to ensure they meet any required standards as the matter evolves, there are a number of changes that have already been or will shortly be implemented, including but not limited to:
● Enforcing strict physical distancing. (ie. the 1.5m, and 4m2 rule.)
● Ensuring hand sanitisers are available at all times.
● Enforcing a “no touch” policy.
Inspecting Property - Property Management and Sales
● Encouraging our customers to undertake first inspections remotely, by the use of Facebook Live, Facetime, or other digital platforms.
● Ensuring inspections are made by private appointment rather than via open homes, with appropriate distancing between individuals.
Property Management - ongoing tenancy issues
● Suspending all routine inspections until further advised.
● Ensuring tradespeople attending for routine maintenance are properly vetted and adhere to requirements around tenant safety, including wearing gloves and maintaining social distancing.
● Assisting with the processing of any government assistance for tenants and landlords.
For the remainder of the week ending 28 March 2020:
● Advertising auctions as “Private Auctions”, with attendance at the auction by registration only. If an auction is to be conducted indoors on the same day or evening as other properties are also being auctioned, each individual auction must be given a precise time and duration with appropriate crowd management.
● Encouraging customers to bid remotely via technology rather than attending in person, providing them with access to digital technology such as Real Time Agent, Auction Now, Gavl, Auction Live, or Facebook Live. Alternatively, phone bidding is also available.
From 28 March 2020 onwards:
● Private Auctions will be undertaken without bidders or other members of the community present. All registrations and bidding will be done online or over the phone.
All changes to best practice will be clearly and proactively communicated to customers as the need to implement them has arisen. We believe by taking these steps we can continue to provide vital support to buyers and sellers, tenants and landlords, while at the same time supporting the government’s efforts to flatten the curve on Covid-19.
While the majority of the industry forms part of the group represented by this statement, we note that there are many other brands and independent agencies operating in our industry over which we have no influence. As we continue to provide this essential service to the Australian community, we would seek government assurance that spot checks be made on all real estate businesses to ensure compliance with best practice is being maintained by all.
* REIP (Real Estate Industry Partners) is a group of the largest real estate brands and groups in Australia. 6,300 offices across all states. Comprising Ray White, Harcourts, C21, PRD Nationwide, Remax, Belle Property, Raine & Horne, Coronis and Place as well as many others including LJ Hooker, who are members rather than shareholders/directors.