The global economy is reeling from the shocks of a medical pandemic known as COVID-19 with the property sector not immune from the disease.
In a conversation with Real Estate Business DiJones Lower North Shore CEO Dean Mackie explained how the industry needs to adapt, but can do more than just survive despite trying times.
Mr Mackie’s team has managed to sell $50 million worth of properties in the last seven days, despite it being a week of government restrictions and consumer sentiment reaching 30 year low.
1. How have you maintained success in a challenging environment?
As a network we have focused on not changing what we do but changing the way we do it. This has seen us pivot and be nimble enough in our decision making to evolve as the impacts of the virus has.
Our team has successfully adapted and operated with a solutions-driven mindset to drive some exceptional results over March transacting over $130 million worth of property. I think it’s important to focus on what can be controlled and accept what can’t. We are all in this together.
We are fortunate in the fact that our technology and systems were already built with centralisation, mobility and flexibility in mind. This has meant our team has been able to work from home seamlessly without impacting their output and service offering.
“We are super proud of our team and deeply appreciative of their attitude, responsiveness and commitment in this difficult time.”
2. Do you believe the current environment is an opportunity for buyers with less competition? If so will the impacts on real estate be minimal?
We are seeing that there are still plenty of qualified, genuine buyers in the marketplace.
These buyers are not being deterred by the short-term conditions and are taking advantage of interest rates at historic lows and the low Aussie dollar. In the past 5 days our agents have spoken directly to over 565 buyers who are ready and willing to purchase.
With the level of uncertainty in the marketplace, and inability to predict the scale or timeline that COVID-19 will have an impact, we will see some buyers hold off. However, for those in a position to take advantage of the fact mortgages are cheaper than ever, there is an opportunity with reduced competition.
Real estate is far more resilient during economic downturns, and people will always need a place to call home. We also expect that as we come out the other side of this period, there will be a surge in demand and supply and so we are doing everything we can to innovate and optimise our operating systems, so we are ready to accelerate into those conditions.
3. Could the next few months shape the real estate industry from a proptech point of view with open inspections going online, if so is it a benefit for agents?
Absolutely, I think in the long run this experience can only be a positive for the real estate industry. Whilst our systems and technology offering has perfectly placed us for this scenario, it has forced us to adopt all aspects of these platforms immediately. It has also been important to ensure everyone in the network is not only up to speed, but confident in using our technology stack.
The nature of current conditions has forced us to be creative, innovate and think with an entrepreneurial mindset. We have seen some great success stories come out of this, with properties leased through a combination of virtual and private inspections, and a huge success through video walk-throughs in sales.
Our digital assistant who responds to all website and portal enquiries within 4 minutes, is now set up to offer the opportunity for video walk-throughs and private inspections.
We have no intention of taking a step back from this and believe it will be part of our offering moving forward. Same for Auctions, the convenience factor of not only tuning in, but participating in Auctions from interstate, or the comfort of your living room elevates our offering even further.
We are being forced to revaluate and adopt strategies that we may not have considered previously. Our website traffic has increased 20 per cent in the last month alone, with more than 102,000 sessions. In my opinion our listings on our website should replace physical brochures.
We have also seen significant increases in reach and engagement on our social media platforms, increasing our reach on Facebook to 198,000 individuals in the past 28 days and a 49 per cent increase in engagement. Whilst this was a key part of our property marketing, we see value in increasing its presence and value in all campaigns.
- What are some of the lessons learnt for other real estate agencies?
As an industry in times like this there is an appreciation that we are all in it together. It is important that we portray how seriously the real estate industry are taking the health and wellbeing of all stakeholders, to ensure consumer trust.
This climate has shown us how fortunate we are to have the systems and technology offering we do, although we have had to adapt, we were set up and prepared. We have had multiple agencies reach out, and we are in a great position to assist them benefit from the infrastructure and services that we have not only built, but been recognised for.
This is assistance that we are more than happy to facilitate, and are always willing to share our key learnings from our own experiences and success.