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Real estate’s long road to reopening today – letter from editor

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Today, after over two months of lockdown the property sector, including real estate, returns to work.

We wish all the industry – and our clients within the sector – a safe and successful return.

For buyers, sellers, tenants, homeowners, real estate agents and the property chain as a whole, the anti-Covid-19 shutdown has been a case of the survival of the most adaptable, the most agile.

It has been tough to watch as the entire industry came to a halt, with many in the sector left with no income.

Even homeowners and tenants about to move into new homes were forced to stay put until relocation rules eased somewhat in Level 4. Everyone was affected.

Estate agencies, developers and those in construction were at first in shock but quickly rolled up their sleeves and got to work like never before. It meant sleepless nights planning and lobbying, and in some cases, rolling with the punches.

During the pandemic the new National Property Practitioners Council was also launched and immediately went into battle to fight for real estate to be reopened.

The industry adapted fast – some notably – to a digital world and selling online.

Unable to show homes physically, and with no hope of being paid with the Deeds Office closed for most of level 5 and on a skeleton staff in Level 4, it was not easy. However some agencies and developers did have sales during lockdown. The construction industry was however in complete shutdown.

Everyone was called to dig deep.

Some landlords gave more than others; some agreed to accept lower rents or give rental holidays, and this could be what will save a number of retailers and tenants.

After the government announced aid packages, banks were among the first to step up to help, and the decision by the Reserve Bank to twice lower interest rates during the lockdown was a relief for the industry.

The Moody’s downgrade – a few days before lockdown – had been expected, but the protracted shutdown had not. 

Now it is in the reopening at level 3 of the property industry and the supply chain of industries attached to them, that we will see the true effects, many of which will possibly be felt far beyond 2020.

Two months is a long time to put an industry on ice, but also a relatively brief time against the alternative – a spike in Covid-related deaths.

Against the backdrop of the desperate fight to survive put up by the property industry, real estate leaders, associations and councils, there has been an opportunity for the industry to look at itself and reimagine its future and we look forward to the fruits of this introspection. 

We are sad for the toll this lockdown has taken on you but I know the industry to be tough, resilient and optimistic.

We wish you well on this road ahead.

Stay safe

Vivian  Warby, 

editor Property360
vivian.warby@inl.co.za

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