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Why 2019 was a ‘fantastic training ground’ for COVID-19

By Grace Ormsby
15 May 2020 | 1 minute read
Michael Clarke

The “very heavy and fairly dramatic” contraction that the market underwent in the lead-up to the 2019 federal election has put real estate agents in a better place to be able to battle the impacts of COVID-19, one of Australia’s leading agents has suggested.

The second-highest ranked agent on REB’s 2020 Top 100 Agents, Clarke & Humel’s Michael Clarke, was speaking on a recent episode of the Secrets of the Top 100 Agents’when he commented that the real estate environment preceding the 2019 election, where everyone thought Labor would win, was a “fantastic training ground for what we are going through right now”.

“It really was a blessing in disguise,” he added, acknowledging the benefit of hindsight.

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According to Mr Clarke, there were a lot of agents who got into the market between 2012 and that period right before the election, “and though the market certainly wasn’t booming that entire time, there were times when the market was either going up ever so slightly or to be raw, it was booming”.

As a result, “there were a lot of people in that situation who were used to having positive conversations with vendors on a routine basis where the vendor is getting a figure that they are expecting or they are getting a figure that’s even more than they’re expecting”.

“That, I think, can breed a little bit of complacency,” he said.

“And so the fact that things started retracting so quickly — we experienced, certainly on the northern beaches, at least, that the dramatic shift happened late 2018 and early 2019.

“In that period of time, it felt very much like we were back to almost GFC days.

“I’d never seen the market contract as quickly and as savagely as we had other than the GFC.”

From his perspective, “that gave everybody the opportunity, though they didn’t know it at the time, to really focus on what it took to get a deal across the line. To not just take an order, but to be able to put yourself in a situation where you are having to very clearly explain to a vendor what it was that constituted a good offer, [and] why it is that they should take it.”

And while things “started obviously roaring back along again”, we’re now back into that situation again, Mr Clarke noted.

Fortunately, “because of the training and what had happened right throughout that period of time in late 2018 to early 2019”, Mr Clarke said he believes the industry is in a far better place to give the best guidance to vendors and buyers.

“Yes, it’s a much tougher period of time than we’ve seen for, well, as long as I can remember, but there’s a tremendous opportunity out there at the moment,” he said.

To learn more about Mr Clarke’s stats and to view the full Top 100 Agents ranking, click here.

Why 2019 was a ‘fantastic training ground’ for COVID-19
Michael Clarke reb
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