Will Real Estate Go Back to ‘Normal’?
When quarantine measures were put in place in Queensland, the real estate sector reacted swiftly and dramatically. realestate.com.au (REA) introduced Digital Inspections and Online Auctions, agents flocked to virtual tours and 3D walkthroughs and even tenants have been helping out with digital routine inspections. Suffice to say the modus operandi of real estate has changed dramatically to cope with the current conditions, but will such measures be a temporary overhaul or do they represent the new status quo?
REA Chief Sales Officer Kul Singh believes that while some things may revert back to how they were before the pandemic, others will stick around for good because they address a problem that’s long plagued those looking for property: inefficiency. “Especially for rentals where you get up to 50 people trying to see a property, do a quick walk through and then move on to the next one,” Singh explains. “So virtual inspections for sure will become the new norm and drive more efficiency for agents and consumers.”
Since these digital alternatives are much easier for consumers, there will inevitably be a demand for these kinds of convenient services. If agencies revert back to only offering physical open homes after quarantine is lifted, buyers and renters will gravitate towards other agents who continue to offer both virtual and physical tour options. That said, Singh believes most agents will prefer to continue with the video option because it results in more qualified leads. “Once you’ve viewed an inspection online you can then apply, and then to secure the lease you get to do a private one-on-one inspection, and ultimately what that’s leading to is more qualified inquiries,” says Singh. More qualified inquiries means greater efficiency – for both agents and consumers.
New isn’t necessarily always better though. Singh suggests auctions will go back to how they used to be, with bidders and spectators standing outside the sale property flashing their paddles. “I don’t see a lot of people moving to digital auction to bid on or sell property,” Singh admits. “It’s solving a problem for here and now but it will likely revert to traditional auctioneering.” Online auctions might be more convenient in the sense that buyers needn’t leave their homes, but it’s more of a one-off event than a property inspection is so the allure and excitement of the auction atmosphere is presumably more powerful than one’s desire to bid in their pyjamas.
Those looking forward to the end of quarantine and a return to business as usual may be in for some disappointment, but rather than lament on the good old days of traditional business practices we should embrace the innovations that COVID-19 has inspired and use this opportunity to become an ever more efficient industry.