Like so many businesses in other industries, real estate agents and companies are adapting to ever-changing COVID-19 restrictions in order to remain open. As a vital industry in not just Queensland but around the country, keeping things going is the goal of agents as they go virtual in an attempt to do just that.
Grant Smith of Grant Smith Property says he is offering virtual open homes and using different apps to give a potential buyer a sense of a property, which he says he is doing with very few challenges.
“We are seeing a positive uptake on our virtual inspections and open homes.
“The beauty of the virtual open homes is all good agents will have them attached to the inspection section of real estate portals, meaning you can watch them from the websites rather than a specific app. For individual walkthroughs, FaceTime or WhatsApp have been the most effective with buyers.
“There are no real challenges and it’s a positive change to offer buyers more information from the comfort of their own home,” Mr Smith adds.
Karen Jones of Adams & Jones Property Specialists has also gone virtual and says it’s keeping her team busy, although it’s “a different way of doing business”. “We are finding that buyers are responding well to the new way forward.
“As well as virtual open homes, we are doing walkthroughs that are online on REA and FaceTiming with clients on virtual inspections.”
The Real Estate Institute of Queensland (REIQ) CEO Antonia Mercorella highlights other benefits of virtual tours to buyers such as allowing people to look any time, from anywhere.
“A 360-degree virtual tour allows any property to be captured in full in virtual reality, allowing potential buyers the ability to carry out the same examination process, room by room, only without any physical presence.
“Virtual inspections can have many advantages to a traditional approach. For example, potential buyers can inspect the property at any time of the day or night to fit in with their own schedule.
“They can also be in any location to inspect the property using any device they prefer – desktop, tablet or mobile phone.
“And it allows interstate buyers the ability to inspect the property without distance being an inhibiting factor, opening the property to a wider pool of interested parties.”
But it’s not just open homes going virtual – auctions are also taking a new shape as people are prevented from bidding under the one roof. Gordon Macdonald of The Auction Group in Mooloolaba says buyers are adapting.
“From the virtual auctions we’ve called over the last few weeks, we’ve noticed a real willingness from buyers to adapt to the new auction platform,” Mr Macdonald says.
“From the buyers’ point of view, it’s super easy.
“They receive an email to register to bid, they are then prompted by a link to join the auction platform. It’s actually easier than the previous processes of registration.
“Fundamentally the auction process hasn’t changed, we just choose to negotiate in a different space now.”
Ms Jones is doing just that. “I will be running my first virtual auction on April 18 for the fabulous Argyle penthouse and I am excited to see how that pans out,” she says.
And while the future is still uncertain due to COVID-19, Mr Smith is optimistic for the property market despite experiencing a decrease in enquiries.
“The beauty of real estate is in all markets there are buyers and sellers who need to transact for various reasons. There are still industries such as health care that are performing very well, meaning that activity will still continue.
“In fact, some sellers who don’t need to sell may remove their properties from the market or even hold back going to market, meaning there is still supply and demand. If there is less on the market, the prices will sustain,” Mr Smith explains.
Ms Mercorella says while it’s too early to make predictions about how property prices will perform, the property market will inevitably be impacted by a reduction in total volume.
“Which may affect median house prices from region to region around Queensland, but at the moment, prices still remain unaffected.
“Sellers still need to contend with the enforced restrictions placed on property auctions and open house inspections – this may affect consumer confidence depending on how long these measures are in place.
“There’s some evidence that a small percentage of listings are being withdrawn from auction in the last few weeks, but the market remains stable and people have readily embraced technology as the new normal for both buying and selling property,” Ms Mercorella concludes.